Two IDF soldiers and at least 11 Palestinians, including 13- year-old and 16-year-old boys, were injured in clashes that occurred throughout the West Bank amid heightened tensions from the funeral on Monday of 30-year-old Arafat Jaradat, who died Saturday in an Israeli jail.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak held a security evaluation meeting with the IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, as well as OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, deputy police chief Cmdr. Yisrael Yitzhak and the head of the Prisons Service, Aharon Franco.
The meeting focused on the wave of violence in the West Bank, and ways to calm the area down. But Jaradat’s funeral – which drew thousands to his home village of Sa’ir, just outside Hebron – sparked a number of violent clashes both in the immediate region and beyond.
Shortly after the funeral ended, some 150 Palestinians hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at IDF soldiers in a guard tower by Rachel’s Tomb, near Bethlehem. Rioters also hurled improvised grenades, which endangered the lives of worshipers at the scene, security sources said.
Security forces responded with riot dispersal measures.
The IDF confirmed that a 16- year-old was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during that clash and was transferred to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Karem after being treated by an army doctor at the scene. A hospital spokesman said the teen is in serious conditions.
The nongovernmental organization B’Tselem reported that Muhammad el-Kord, 13, was injured in the stomach and in the leg by a .22-caliber bullet during the Bethlehem riot.
Another Palestinian seen hurling a grenade was also shot in the leg using the same caliber bullet, which is considered to be less dangerous by the IDF.
This type of bullet is fired after non-lethal riot dispersal measures, such as tear gas, have already been used, the sources added.
The IDF is investigating all three incidents.
In Beitunya, near the Ofer Prison, some 500 Palestinians took part in a riot, which was also dispersed by soldiers. Six Palestinians were lightly injured in the clashes, and a soldier was very lightly wounded by a rock. He received medical treatment at the scene.
Some 100 Palestinians also rioted on the edge of Kalkilya.
In Beit Omar, located between Bethlehem and Sa’ir at the edge of the Gush Etzion region, a soldier was lightly injured by a rock in clashes that broke out between security forces and 50 Palestinians.
In that same region, clashes also broke out in Beit Anunu between security forces and 200 Palestinians.
In Hebron, some 200 Palestinians rioted by the IDF guard station located at the edge of Shuhadah Street.
Riots occurred there on Sunday as well. In the afternoon, soldiers stood on the side of the checkpoint in the area of the city under Palestinian control. In front of them stretched a mostly deserted street that was littered with stones. Most of the storefronts were closed.
Down the street and only a few blocks away from the soldiers stood hundreds of Palestinians.
They built homemade barricades from wood, steel grates and trash cans, from which they then hurled stones, firecrackers and Molotov cocktails at the security forces, who at times would clear the street with tear gas before taking apart the barricades.
At a number of points, protesters also lit fires at the bottom of the street.
In some instances, soldiers also fired .22-caliber bullets at the legs of protesters, one of which hit a ring leader, according to security sources.
The ring leader was lightly injured and taken to hospital.
On the other side of the checkpoint, just one block away, Jewish residents of the city continued to enjoy the festival of Purim, which is celebrated for two days in Hebron.
As soldiers shot tear gas and Palestinians threw stones, settlers outside the Beit Hadassah apartment complex danced in the street.
Some of the teenagers who were drunk climbed on the tops of cars that tried to pass.
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.