Palestinian riots in Silwad 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Scores of Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli soldiers for a second day in the West Bank on Friday, after locals accused Jewish settlers of beating a man with steel pipes.
Youths heaved rocks at IDF jeeps as smoke from blazing tires mixed with tear gas a few hundred meters from the red-rooftopped villas of the Israeli settlement of Ofra.
An IDF spokesperson described the alleged beating that led to the disturbances as a "clash between Israeli and Palestinian civilians" and said it was investigating.
Israelis from an outpost of cabins between the Ofra settlement and the Palestinian village of Silwad beat 60-year-old former judge Ahmad al-Zir as he was tending his land on Thursday, locals said.
"They were hitting him again and again on the head, cursing him and telling him to shut up," said Mahmoud Hussein, a relative and an eyewitness of the alleged attack.
Village youths pursued the Israelis to the encampment and burned down one of their improvised homes.
IDF soldiers were dispatched to the scene late Thursday, firing at the Palestinians and hitting two protesters with live bullets, including one in the chest, medics said.
For Friday prayers in Silwad, hundreds of village men streamed past IDF troops who tried to block their path and gathered in al-Zir's apricot grove in protest.
"Our land, its stones and its soil, is our right. Sleeping on it by night and tending to it by day, without fear of attacks by hateful settlers, is a matter of our very existence," the local imam told worshipers by megaphone at the open-air sermon.
Disturbances took place in several other areas of the West Bank on Friday.
An IDF soldier was lightly wounded by Palestinian stone-throwers near Mount Hebron in the West Bank, Israel Radio reported.
Earlier in the day another soldier was lightly wounded by stones at the weekly protest against the security barrier in Bil'in.