Israeli occupation troops in Hebron crackdown after shootings

AFP , Saturday 7 Nov 2015

A Palestinian boy looks at Israeli occupation forces after they attended Friday prayer in the West Bank city of Hebron November 6, 2015 (Reuters)

Israeli occupation forces blocked on Saturday exits from the southern West Bank city of Hebron as they launched a manhunt for alleged Palestinian assailants after shooting incidents targeting Jewish worshippers and a soldier.

Two Israeli teens were shot and wounded on Friday at the flashpoint site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque, the army said.

Around 4,000 Jewish worshippers were visiting Hebron on Friday and Saturday as part of a religious pilgrimage centred around the biblical matriarch Sarah, who according to tradition was buried in a field which eventually became part of the city Hebron.

A soldier was also shot and wounded on Friday near the Palestinian village of Beit Anon north of Hebron.

Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told AFP there was "ongoing activity to locate the perpetrators of yesterday's attacks".

On Friday a 72-year-old Palestinian woman was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces after allegedly attempting to ram them with her car nearby Hebron.

Israeli forces were searching Palestinian homes in and around Hebron as well as setting up new checkpoints for vehicles and people, an AFP reporter said.

In addition the army blocked off the northern entrance of Hebron with mounds of dirt. The eastern entrance has been sealed off for days.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem on Friday criticised the army for carrying out "immoral and unlawful" measures which it said hinder Palestinian freedom of movement in Hebron, including closing off the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood.

"These steps constitute collective punishment of residents of Hebron who are suspected of nothing and are forced to suffer serious disruptions in their daily lives," the group said.

Friday's unrest broke a brief lull in the wave of deadly attacks and violent protests throughout October that raised fears of a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation.

Most of it had occurred in and around Hebron and mainly involved Palestinian stabbing attacks.

There were no clashes or attacks in the city on Saturday as troops searched for the assailants.

But an army spokeswoman said a soldier was slightly wounded by "an accidental discharge of a bullet near a military position in Hebron".

Palestinians have been protesting for weeks against Israel's attempts to build more settlements in east Jerusalem and force out Arab residents of the city that is meant to be a capital for any future Palestinian state.

Palestinians have been protesting repeated Israeli and illegal Jewish settler attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque and closing the Muslim holy site on a number of occasions to worshippers. The al-Aqsa mosque is one of Islam's holiest sites.

The current wave of protests and repression started in late July when 18-month old toddler Ali Dawabsha was burned to death and three other Palestinians severely injured after their house in the occupied West Bank was set on fire by Israeli settlers.

Settlement-building, racial discrimination, confiscation of identity cards, long queues at checkpoints, as well as daily clashes and the desecration of Al-Aqsa mosque, have been Palestinians' daily routine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right government, through the notorious displacement settlement policy and the arbitrary practices against the Palestinians, have deliberately killed any possible opportunity to achieve a just and lasting political solution to the conflict.

*The story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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