At least 13 Palestinians and one Israeli were wounded in clashes in the city of Hebron over rumours that Jewish settlers ordered to leave their West Bank homes in November were facing forced eviction by security forces.
AFP - At least 13 Palestinians and one Israeli were wounded on Tuesday as ultra-nationalist Israelis clashed with residents and police in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron.
The rioting broke out as rumours spread that security forces were set to evict 100 Jewish settlers from a house the Israeli high court has ordered evacuated.
Young settlers, backed by right-wing supporters, hurled rocks for several hours at Palestinian homes and police vehicles. Police at one point fired teargas grenades at the protesters.
At least 13 Palestinians were wounded and significant damage was caused to homes in Hebron, medics and witnesses said.
One Jewish activist was later seriously wounded after being hit in the head by a rock thrown at him by Palestinians as the clashes continued throughout the day, the army said.
On November 16, the Israeli High Court ordered the settlers to leave the Hebron house in which they have lived since March 2007, but security forces have not enforced the order to date.
The settlers insist they have bought the house, which the alleged Palestinian seller denies. The court ordered the settlers to leave the building until ownership can be determined.
Since the eviction order was issued, the settlers have been involved in several clashes and desecrated a mosque and a cemetery.
Dozens of settlers in the northern West Bank also clashed with Palestinians and border police, and blocked roads in a show of support for the Israelis living in the house. Graffiti insulting Prophet Mohammed, as well as stars of David were spray painted on mosques in the area on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the father of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, one of four Israelis killed in the attack on Mumbai's Chabad centre, asked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert not to order the evacuation of the controversial house during the mourning period so as "to maintain the unity of Israel."
With more than 170,000 Palestinian residents, Hebron is the largest city in the Israeli-occupied West Bank apart from annexed Arab east Jerusalem.
It has long been a flashpoint because of a settler enclave of around 600 hardline Jews in the heart of the city, and a further 6,500 settlers living in Kiryat Arba on the outskirts.
Date created : 2008-12-02