Over 100 Palestinians said injured in West Bank, Gaza clashes

Hundreds of Palestinians were said to have been injured Friday during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Citing the Hamas-run Palestinian health ministry in Gaza, the Haaretz daily reported 46 were lightly or moderately wounded by live and rubber bullets. Of those, 41 were injured during clashes at a number of locations along the Gaza border.

Another 105 Palestinians were said to have been injured from inhaling smoke and tear gas.

In the West Bank, clashes were reported near Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho, among other places.

In Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, Border Police officers arrested three Palestinians suspected of throwing rocks, molotov cocktails and burning tires at security forces. Video released by police showed the suspects being detained by undercover officers.

Since US President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, there have been violent protests every Friday in the West Bank and Gaza, although their size has diminished in recent weeks.

While welcomed in Israel, Trump’s declaration was met with anger by Palestinians, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas saying the US was no longer an honest broker in peace talks and the Gaza-based terror group Hamas calling for an intifada, or violent uprising. Trump stressed his recognition wasn’t taking a position on the city’s boundaries.

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The protests come amid heightened tensions following a terror attack in the West Bank earlier this week.

Earlier, the army said residents of Nablus threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops searching the area during a pre-dawn arrest raid.

The soldiers retaliated with riot dispersal methods, the military said in a statement.

Israeli security forces take aim during clashes with Palestinians near the Hawara checkpoint, south of the West Bank city of Nablus, on January 12, 2018. (AFP Photo/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

The arrests came amid an ongoing manhunt after the perpetrators of a lethal terror attack in which Rabbi Raziel Shevach, an Israeli father of six, was gunned down on a nearby West Bank highway on Tuesday night.

On Friday morning, the Israel Defense Forces announced that it was keeping in place a series of checkpoints in the Nablus area that it set up following the shooting attack.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

It was not immediately clear if the man arrested in Nablus early Friday morning — identified by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency as Muathe Rayan — was connected to the army’s manhunt, or if he is suspected of an unrelated crime.

On Thursday afternoon, clashes broke out in a village outside Nablus in response to a checkpoint that was set up in the area.

According to Palestinian officials, Israeli forces shot dead one protester and injured four more. The IDF confirmed that shots had been fired during the clash, but would not comment on Palestinian casualties.


Palestinians (top) clash with Israeli forces north of the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 12, 2018. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Since Tuesday night, the IDF has been maintaining checkpoints and searching villages and cities in the northern West Bank in order to find the terrorists behind the deadly shooting attack.

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On Tuesday, shortly before 8 p.m., 35-year-old father of six Rabbi Raziel Shevach was driving in his car on the highway near his home in the Havat Gilad outpost when shots were fired at him from a passing car.

Shevach, a volunteer medic, was shot in the neck, but managed to call his wife and tell her to call an ambulance. Civilian and military medics rushed to the scene and tried to stop the bleeding as they took Shevach to Kfar Saba’s Meir Hospital, where he was pronounced dead after life-saving efforts failed.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

According to a Kan television report on Wednesday, the shooter used a mass-produced firearm — not a locally produced Carlo-style submachine gun — in the attack and appeared to be “well-trained.”

In a rare move, the Hamas terrorist group’s military wing quickly released a statement praising the attack on Tuesday night, calling it “heroic” and a sign of future attacks to come, though the organization did not take responsibility for the shooting.

Israeli defense officials have repeatedly warned that the Gaza-based terrorist group is looking to carry out attacks in the West Bank.

Judah Ari Gross and Jacob Magid contributed to this report.