Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops on Saturday night, near an illegal settlement outpost in the northern West Bank, amid rising violence in the area following a deadly terror shooting.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least seven Palestinian demonstrators were hurt by Israel Defense Force soldiers’ live fire in the village of Burqa, adjacent to the illegal Homesh outpost.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said one of them — a 17-year-old boy — was seriously hurt and taken to the an-Najah hospital in Nablus.
A spokesperson for the military said the teen hurled a molotov cocktail at troops, and they responded with gunfire.
Another 35 were hurt from rubber bullets, and 95 more were treated for suffocation from tear gas and other minor injuries, the medical service said.
Palestinian media reports also claimed gunmen opened fire toward IDF troops during the demonstration. The IDF said sounds of gunfire were heard in the area, but did not confirm if troops were directly targeted.
The army said the Palestinian protesters hurled stones and set fire to tires, and that troops responded with “riots dispersal means,” and live fire.
One soldier was lightly hurt from a stone hurled at him, the military said.
Later in the evening, dozens of right-wing nationalists attempted to march toward the outpost, despite a military order banning the entry of Israelis into the area. According to the Kan public broadcaster, the group’s vehicles were halted near Sebastia, and from there they continued by foot to Homesh.
The military said on Saturday that it had also declared the route leading to Homesh a closed military zone, and that its policy regarding the outpost had not changed.
رغم القرار الإسرائيلي بالمنع..
صور | مئات المستوطنين يتوجهون نحو مستوطنة “حومش” المخلاة على الطريق بين نابلس و #جنين. pic.twitter.com/ioYaS7gOTv
— المقدسي للإعلام (@AlmakdesyMedia) December 25, 2021
Separately, a Palestinian gunman opened fire from a moving vehicle toward a military post near Nablus. No troops were hurt in the attack, the IDF said in a statement. “Dozens of shell casings were found by troops scanning the area,” the military added.
The Hamas terror group praised Saturday’s clashes and shooting attempts, calling on Palestinians in the West Bank and in Jerusalem to show support for Burqa.
“The shooting operations carried out by our heroes… are just an initial message, and the enemy must prepare for a comprehensive battle with all our people, to defeat and uproot the occupation and settlements,” Abd al-Hakim Huneini, a senior official in the terror group’s West Bank division said in a statement.
Since the attack last week that killed Yehudah Dimentman — who studied at a yeshiva, or religious school, the IDF has allowed to operate illegally on a near-daily basis for over 15 years at Homesh — the area has seen an uptick in violence, and the army was preparing for the possibility that it could spill over into the coming days as well.
As part of an apparent effort to diminish tensions, security forces on Friday morning were dispatched to the outpost erected on private Palestinian land and began taking down at least six makeshift buildings, including one used by the yeshiva’s students for lodging and another two by families who recently moved to the hilltop in a move of solidarity also meant to expand Jewish presence in the area.
Settler leaders blasted the demolitions though, calling them a “prize for terror,” and arguing that the response to the shooting should be to legalize the outpost at Homesh, which was once a fully-fledged settlement before it was evacuated in 2005 as part of the Gaza Disengagement.
Border Police did not raze all of the buildings at the outpost, and the building used as the yeshiva remained standing, amid concerns regarding the response such a demolition might draw from local settlers so soon after the terror shooting.
Thousands of far-right, nationalist religious Israelis descended on Homesh Thursday afternoon in a solidarity march with Dimentman’s wife and father as they completed the traditional mourning period for him.
Last Thursday night, Palestinian terrorists opened fire at a car of students from the illegally constructed yeshiva at Homesh, killing Dimentman and wounding two others. Days later, security forces arrested six Palestinian suspects in connection with the shooting attack.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.