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Palestinians bury teenagers killed in confrontations with Israeli forces

By AFP - Oct 31,2015 - Last updated at Oct 31,2015

Palestinian mourners carry the body of Dania Ersheed, 17, during a mass funeral in the West Bank city of Hebron, Saturday. Mourners held a mass funeral for five Palestinians from Hebron who were killed after allegedly stabbing Israelis, as their bodies were released by Israeli troops last night (AP photo by Nasser Nasser)

HEBRON, Palestinian Territories — Violence broke out Saturday in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron as Palestinians buried five teenagers killed in a wave of attacks and confrontations with Israeli forces. 

The funerals came as Israeli occupation forces shot dead a Palestinian at a checkpoint between the West Bank and Israel after he allegedly tried to stab one of them, Israel said.

The surge of unrest since early October has triggered fears of a third Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation by a generation gripped by despair and anger over stalled peace efforts.

Sixty-six Palestinians, an Arab Israeli and nine Israelis have been killed since the violence erupted in occupied Jerusalem a month ago.

The violence has spread to the West Bank, with daily protests and attacks on Israeli soldiers, and to the Gaza Strip, where there have been confrontations with Israeli occupation forces along the borders of the coastal enclave.

Thousands of Palestinian mourners attended the funerals of the five teenagers, two of whom were girls, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

They waved Palestinian flags and chanted "we will die but Palestine will live on".

Confrontations broke out between Palestinian stone throwers and Israeli forces as the funerals began.

Palestinian medical sources said 12 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire.

One Palestinian was buried separately in East Jerusalem.

Israel has been withholding the bodies of "suspected assailants" as part of measures to dissuade attacks on Jews. On Friday, it said it had released seven bodies, apparently to ease tensions.

Families of children killed in the violence have clamoured for their bodies to be released and accuse Israel of "collective punishment".

Ziad Natsheh, who buried his son Tareq, 17, said as he received condolences from mourners Saturday that he was relieved to give him a "dignified burial".

"Living in a country where there is nothing else but war, everyone expects to know death, injury or lose a child," said Natsheh.

Many attackers who have targeted Israeli forces come from Hebron, home to a shrine known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque and to Jews as Cave of the Patriarchs, has 200,000 Palestinian residents.

But the presence of 500 Israeli settlers near the city centre, living behind barbed wire and watchtowers, with a buffer zone controlled by occupation forces, has kept tensions high.

On Friday, dozens of protesters outside the shrine condemned restrictions on access imposed by Israel, which has divided it into a mosque and a synagogue.

Media reported that more army checkpoints were being set up in Hebron at access points to Jewish areas, with Palestinians aged 15 to 25 not allowed to pass.

Amnesty International has urged Israel to protect Palestinians in Hebron “from attacks by Israeli settlers”, which the rights group says have “escalated” in less than a month.

Hundreds of Palestinians also attended the funeral of another victim of the West Bank violence, eight-month-old Ramadan Thawabteh. 

Officials said he was asphyxiated by tear gas fired by Israeli forces near his Bethlehem home Friday.

Simmering tensions boiled over in September regarding the status of Al Haram Al Sharif/Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, before spiralling into a series of attacks from October 1.

Palestinians accuse Israel of seeking to change the rules governing the compound, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted he will not alter a status quo that forbids Jews from praying there.

 

On Friday, the Palestinians also urged the International Criminal Court to accelerate its probe into accusations of Israeli war crimes, handing over a 52-page dossier detailing summary killings and collective punishment.

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