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Clash between Palestinians and Israeli forces near a West Bank outpost

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IDF says forces clashed with Palestinians in the West Bank in an area that has recently seen a slight increase in friction

TEL AVIV, Israel – Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians in the West Bank in an area that has recently seen a slight increase in friction, the IDF and Palestinian medics said.

Saturday night’s clashes were part of days of tension in the area surrounding a West Bank settlement outpost and a spike in violence elsewhere in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

During the clashes, the army said, hundreds of Palestinians threw stones and burned tires and shots were fired in the area. The military said the forces responded with live fire and “riot dispersal means”, usually tear gas and stun grenades.

The military also said shots were fired from a passing vehicle in the direction of a military post near the West Bank town of Nablus, south of Homesh. It was not clear if the shooting was linked to the clashes.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 10 people were injured by live ammunition. The Palestinian health ministry said one of them, a 17-year-old, was seriously injured. Dozens more were injured by rubber bullets.

A soldier was slightly injured, the army said.

Homesh, in the northern West Bank, was dismantled as part of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. But in recent years, Israeli settlers have returned to pray and established an unauthorized outpost on the site.

Last week at least one Palestinian gunman opened fire on a car full of Jewish seminary students near the outpost. Yehuda Dimentman, 25, was killed and two others were injured near Homesh, which is considered illegal by the Israeli government.

Thousands of Jewish nationalists marched towards Homesh on Thursday to mark the end of Dimentman’s period of mourning, and on Friday Israeli forces dismantled the structures settlers had erected at the outpost.

According to Israeli media, Jewish settlers were to march to the outpost again on Saturday evening, drawing calls on Palestinian social media for neighboring villagers to be on alert.

The clashes come amid an increase in Israeli-Palestinian violence elsewhere in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Earlier this month, an ultra-Orthodox Jew was seriously injured after being stabbed by a Palestinian attacker outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. A week earlier, a Hamas activist opened fire in the Old City, killing an Israeli. The two attackers were killed by Israeli forces.

Settler violence against Palestinians saw a similar increase during the olive harvest. In mid-November, Jewish settlers attacked a group of Palestinian farmers with pepper spray and batons in the farmland surrounding Homesh, injuring four people.

Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East War, and the territories are now home to more than 700,000 Israeli settlers. Most members of the international community view Israeli settlements as illegal obstacles to peace.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem and the West Bank to be part of a future independent state.

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