Funeral Sparks Violence as IDF, Palestinians Clash Near Jerusalem

Saturday's confrontations erupted after after funeral of a 23-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead the day before by Israeli forces.

Dozens of Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli forces north of Jerusalem yesterday, the second day of violent confrontations as tensions ran high this week.

Yesterday's clash erupted after the funeral of a 23-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead the day before by Israeli forces.

Temple Mount Clashes - Reuters - February 2012

In yesterday's confrontation in the West Bank district of al-Ram abutting Jerusalem, dozens of Palestinian youths, some of them masked, hurled rocks and exploding firecrackers at troops. They took cover behind barricades of overturned garbage containers and black plumes of smoke from burning tires.

Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel pellets, protecting themselves with plastic masks and shields. Neither side reported injuries.

Palestinian protesters prevented cars from entering the sprawling neighborhood, fearing some might carry undercover Israeli troops. The youths also prepared firebombs, but it wasn't clear if any were thrown at Israeli forces.

The clashes came a day after Talat Ramieh was shot and killed as he hurled exploding fireworks at Israeli forces in al-Ram.

Palestinian youths have recently begun using exploding fireworks to rattle - and potentially injure - Israeli forces. The hand-held brown cylinders make a hissing noise and emit a stream of sparks before they explode.

An Israeli military spokesman could not immediately say if opening fire under such circumstances violated the army's rules of engagement. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing military regulations.

The army said it is investigating the shooting. Palestinians and their supporters complain that such investigations rarely lead to indictments against soldiers.

The clash that killed Ramieh was one of many that broke out throughout Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem on Friday. They were sparked by Palestinian rumors that extremist Jews would try to storm the Temple Mount, rumors the police said where baseless.

Also yesterday, several days of Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo ended without results, participants said.

Political rivals Hamas and Fatah failed to reach agreement on the composition of an interim unity government that would end more than four years of separate administrations in the West Bank and Gaza and lead the Palestinians to elections.

Earlier this month, Hamas chief Khaled Meshal and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah reached a breakthrough agreement under which Abbas would head the interim government. The two leaders held more talks in Cairo to try to agree on ministers for the new cabinet but failed to make progress, participants said.

A senior Abbas aide, Azzam al-Ahmed, alleged that Hamas hasn't yet settled its internal differences over the unity deal, but Izzat Rishq, a Meshal aide, said it was Abbas who asked for more time.