Palestinian youths rioted and clashed with the IDF in multiple locations across the West Bank on Tuesday afternoon.
In Ramallah, some 300 Palestinians took part in a march from the Palestinian city toward the settlement of Beit El and approached an IDF checkpoint, where they began hurling rocks at Israeli vehicles and at soldiers.
Soldiers responded with stun grenades, skunk spray for crowd control, as well as firing low-impact Ruger rifle rounds and rubber bullets, an IDF Spokesman said. Seven Palestinians sustained wounds in the clashes; five from Ruger rounds and two from rubber bullets.
A number of armed Palestinians fired live rounds into the air from small arms during the march, the army added.
In Hebron, around 50 Palestinians hurled rocks at soldiers at an IDF post. A foreign tourist sustained an injury from a rock hurled by a rioter, and civilians evacuated her to hospital.
Soldiers responded by firing stun grenades.
In Tulkarm, Palestinians hurled rocks at soldiers at the IDF crossing. Soldiers fired stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets to break up the riot. One Palestinian sustained an injury to his leg from a rubber bullet but fled the scene, the army said.
At Rachel’s Tomb, just north of Bethlehem, some 150 Palestinians hurled rocks as well as two firebombs at security forces.
Border policemen deployed non-lethal crowd control measures, and one officer was lightly wounded in the clash.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem police arrested 18 Palestinian suspects Monday night in its continuing crackdown against violent Arab offenders in the capital. The two-week crime sweep, launched after rampant Palestinian rioting on the Temple Mount and in east Jerusalem, has resulted in more than 200 arrests amid security preparations for the nearly 100,000 Jews expected to make a pilgrimage to the Western Wall on Wednesday for the Priestly Blessing.
According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the latest arrests are for crimes including sexual assault and rock and firebomb-throwing at officers and civilians, which wounded two tourists outside the Old City on Tuesday.
Rosenfeld said three Arab youths were apprehended by police on Tuesday afternoon shortly after hurling rocks at an Egged bus and several vehicles en route to the Western Wall.
“Three masked suspects threw several rocks at the bus and regular vehicles, shattering the windows of one of the vehicles and injuring two female tourists,” he said.
“Police units responded immediately and made the arrests at the scene of the attack as the suspects attempted to flee.”
The wounded tourists were treated at the scene by Magen David Adom paramedics, he said.
Later on Tuesday, Rosenfeld said two Arab women in their 30s were arrested based on CCTV footage showing them attacking visitors in the Old City earlier in the week, while six Arab minors from A-Tur were apprehended after surveillance footage showed them sexually assault a female Polish tourist in her 40s.
“The woman was walking in A-Tur on Saturday during Shabbat when a number of Palestinians between the ages of 12 and 15 sexually assaulted her,” he said. “She made contact with police who looked at CCTV footage of the incident and arrested the six suspects, who admitted to the assault.”
Additionally, seven Palestinian men in their 20s were apprehended in east Jerusalem’s Jebl Mukaber for recently throwing rocks and firebombs at police during a riot in the neighborhood.
Rosenfeld said the arrests will continue until all suspects accused of attacking police and Israelis have been rounded up, with an emphasis on securing the Old City for Wednesday morning’s Priestly Blessing, which drew roughly 80,000 Jews from around the globe last year.
“Police activity is continuing in and around Arab neighborhoods as well as the Old City, where tens of thousands of Jews are expected for the Priestly Blessing on Wednesday,” he said, adding that thousands of extra officers from a breadth of units will be deployed.
The blessing is held at the Western Wall during the intermediate days of the three pilgrimage festivals – Passover, Succot, and Shavuot – when Jews would make offerings at the Temple and be blessed by the high priest.
Rosenfeld said the police will “leave nothing to chance” during the festival.