Dozens of Palestinians injured in West Bank clashes

Israeli and Palestinian officials meet to discuss how to de-escalate tensions in the occupied territories

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Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters continued throughout the occupied West Bank on Tuesday as security agencies on both sides struggled to deescalate tensions.

At least 25 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces at Qalandiya checkpoint, the main crossing between Jerusalem and Ramallah, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, according to Ma’an News Agency.

At least 10 Palestinians were also reportedly injured in separate clashes in Bethlehem following the funeral of Abed al-Rahman Shadi Obeidallah, 12, who was fatally shot in the chest by an Israeli soldier during a protest on Monday.

Obeidallah was the second Palestinian killed in a week by Israeli forces. On Sunday night Hutheifa Suleiman, 18, was fatally shot by Israeli forces during protests in the West Bank city of Tulkarm.

The Palestinian Red Crescent on Monday said that nearly 500 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli soldiers and settlers since Saturday, according to Ma’an.

The clashes, initially sparked by increased restrictions on Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, spread after two attacks allegedly perpetrated by Palestinians killed two Israelis in East Jerusalem and two Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Israeli settlers rioted in the West Bank, attacking Palestinians and destroying their property.

Several thousand Israeli right-wing protesters, accompanied by lawmakers, gathered in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence on Monday evening, demanding a strong response to Palestinian unrest and new settlement construction. Settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories militarily occupied by Israel since 1967, are illegal under international law.

"If a terrorist decides to throw a stone, you need to deport him and all his family, to destroy his house and his family’s house, to take his citizenship. You need to hurt them," Oren Hazan, a lawmaker from Netanyahu's Likud party, told Agence France-Press at the rally.

Sending a message to potential Palestinian attackers, Israel razed homes on Tuesday in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Al-Mukabbir belonging to the families of two Palestinians accused of attacking Israelis last year. Collectively punishing an entire family for a crime that one of its members committed is illegal under international law

Netanyahu also authorized an increase of soldiers in the West Bank, while deploying thousands of more police officers throughout Jerusalem.

"Nobody will have immunity, anywhere," he said.

While Netanyahu talks tough to his constituents, describing the situation as a “wave of terror,” military officers are meeting with their Palestinian counterparts on Tuesday in the West Bank to discuss how to ease tensions.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, at a gathering of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Tuesday, signaled that he hoped to avoid further violent conflict. 

"We tell them [the Israelis] that we do not want either military or security escalation," Abbas said at the PLO meeting. "All our instructions to our [security] agencies, our factions and our youth have been that we do not want escalation."

Recent tensions have been inflamed in particular by frequent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third-holiest site.

Palestinians fear increasing visits by Jewish groups to Al-Aqsa, revered by Jews as the site of biblical temples, are eroding longtime Muslim religious control there. Netanyahu has said he is committed to maintaining the status quo at Al-Aqsa. However, he will not consider returning occupied East Jerusalem to Palestinian control so that it could serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Al Jazeera and wire services. Ehab Zahriyeh contributed to this report. 

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