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Palestinians and Israeli soldiers clash in West Bank after 18-year-old is killed

Palestinians and Israeli soldiers clash in West Bank after 18-year-old is killedDozens of Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers at checkpoints in the West Bank on Monday, just hours after an 18-year-old was shot and killed at a violent demonstration overnight as a surge of violence continued.

The clashes on Monday came after Israeli forces shot dead the young Palestinian man, identified as Huthayfa Soliman, as he and others threw firebombs, firecrackers and rocks during clashes at a checkpoint near Tulkarm, in the northern West Bank, according to the Israeli military.

Faisal Salameh, a Palestinian medic, said Mr. Soliman was shot in the stomach and died in the hospital, and the Palestine Red Crescent Society, fearing more violence in the days to come, raised its emergency status level.

Separately, the Israeli military said it had bombed a security compound in Gaza after Palestinian militants fired a rocket that landed in an open field in southern Israel.

“Firing a rocket at people’s homes is a clear, coward and cruel act of terrorism,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, said in a statement. “Whether it’s a rocket attack, a shooting, a stabbing or any other form of aggression meant to terrorize civilians, the I.D.F. will not tolerate it.”

The demonstrations and clashes in the West Bank are part of the latest wave of violence, which began on Thursday when Palestinian gunmen killed a Jewish couple near a settlement in the occupied West Bank, leaving their young children orphans.

Two days later, a Palestinian teenager fatally stabbed two ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in the Old City of Jerusalem. The attacker, a 19-year-old identified as Muhanad Halabi, was shot dead.

Hours later, a Palestinian man from a Jerusalem neighborhood stabbed and wounded a 15-year-old Jewish boy. The man, identified as Fadi Alon, 21, was shot and killed by the police.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society raised its level of emergency, putting all its staff members and volunteers on standby.

“We raised the level because we think it is going to get worse in the next few days,” said Erab Fouqaha, a spokeswoman for the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

The organization raised its emergency level to three on Sunday afternoon, not its highest level but one not seen since the violence last summer that ultimately set off the devastating war in Gaza, Ms. Fouqaha said.

Ms. Fouqaha said Red Crescent medics had treated 465 Palestinians wounded in clashes throughout the West Bank since Friday, including 36 people treated for live fire. During the same period, she added, the Red Crescent had come under attack 25 times.

In two episodes, Jewish settlers smashed ambulance windows. In over a dozen other incidents, medical staff members were either shot at, wounded at demonstrations or physically attacked.

The largest demonstration on Monday occurred near an Israeli checkpoint, near a Jewish settlement and on the outskirts of Ramallah.

The Palestinian police did not allow the protesters to reach the Israeli checkpoint, and they responded by walking up a nearby hill to throw rocks and firebombs at the soldiers, and running to a nearby gas station to keep filling their bottles.

“This is for the Aqsa!” the youths chanted, waving the colorful Palestinian flag and the yellow flag of the Fatah movement, led by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. “Aqsa is a red line!”

That was a reference to weeks of escalating tensions and confrontations around the contested Old City compound that houses the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Palestinians widely fear that Israeli leaders plan to divide the site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

Palestinian leaders, including Mr. Abbas, have openly accused Israeli leaders of planning to do just that; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the allegations and accused Palestinian leaders of seeking to incite violence.

Also on Monday, the Israeli authorities continued the unusual measure of barring most of Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents from entering the Old City.

Only Israeli citizens, tourists and Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship or live, work or study in the Old City were granted access, along with some Palestinians who were headed to the Al Aqsa Mosque for worship, but men under 50 were temporarily banned from praying there.

On Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu threatened to wage a “harsh offensive against Palestinian-Islamic terrorism.” In a televised statement after a security meeting, he announced a series of measures, including the “speeding up of the process for the demolition of the homes of terrorists.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Abbas appealed to the United Nations for an international force to be deployed in the West Bank, the Palestinian state news agency reported Sunday evening.

Mr. Abbas has increasingly called for such a force, although it is unlikely Israel would accept foreign troops in an area its military controls, outside the context of a peace agreement.

Source: New York Times
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