Two Palestinian protesters were reportedly injured in clashes in Hebron Thursday, a day after the Obama administration sharply criticized Israel
for designating the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb to the list of Jewish heritage sites marked for renovation and preservation.
According to Palestinian reports, four demonstrators were also arrested in the violence just meters from the cave, where dozens of youths threw rocks at Border Police and IDF soldiers.
The security forces fired tear gas cannisters to disperse the protesters, who had gathered to protest the Israeli decision.
The government's move, announced Sunday, has drawn wide criticism, including from the United Nations. US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the administration viewed the move as provocative and unhelpful to the goal of getting the two sides back to the table.
Toner said US displeasure with the designations of the Cave of the Patriarchs in the flash point town of Hebron and the traditional tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel in Bethlehem had been conveyed to senior Israeli officials by American diplomats.
Also Thursday, amid the heightened tensions, Palestinians were planning a march in Hebron
, to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Baruch Goldstein massacre.
On February 25, 1994, the Israeli-American physician killed 29 Muslims
who were praying at the mosque that is part of the Cave of the
Patriarchs complex. He wounded another 150 before being beaten to death.
To highlight the importance of the cave, Hebron’s Jewish community
plans to hold a special prayer service there on Thursday, to mark the
Fast of Esther.
Both events are being held after three days of violence in Hebron, in
which Palestinians have thrown rocks and bottles at soldiers and burned
On Wednesday, “an illegal disturbance broke out near the Beit
Hamirkahat checkpoint. Rioters burned tires and threw rocks at IDF
soldiers," according to the army.
The soldiers responded with “crowd dispersal means,” the statement
said, adding that there had been no injuries during the incident, which
had ended by midday.Tovah Lazaroff and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report