Palestinians: Silwan riots broke out after police lost crate of ammunition

Residents and police exchange projectiles and accusations of whose contingent initiated the violent incidents in the eastern Jerusalem-area village Friday night.

Violent conflict broke out between Israel Police and Border Police and Palestinian residents of the village of Silwan, in the eastern area of greater Jerusalem on Friday night, lasting for several hours.

In the clashes, some ammunition belonging to the police was abandoned, and apparently retrieved by Palestinian youths. Reinforcements arrived to reacquire the ammunition, resulting in injuries and arrests.

According to Palestinian sources, the incidents occurred when a number of Border Police officers tried to enter one of the houses in the village, apparently in order to reach a post located on the roof of the building, and beat an older woman in the house.

In response, dozens of youths wearing masks attacked police officers at their post with stones, and the police were forced to evacuate the post. In their haste, the police may have left behind a crate containing ammunition. It is thought that the crate was filled with demonstration-dispersing weapons, not bullets or bombs.

Jerusalem Police realized soon afterwards that the crate of ammunition was missing, and sent a large contingent of forces to the area, accompanied by helicopter support.

Palestinians say that the police officers forcefully broke into homes, beat residents, damaged property and appropriated property, all without proper search warrants, and arrested nine residents of the village.

Palestinians claim that those arrested continue to face police violence in custody. Several Palestinians were evacuated to receive medical treatment.

Jerusalem Police claim that the violence broke out after youths attacked a Border Police post, and then a Jewish-owned home in the heart of the village, unprovoked, and that the police were only responding to the violence of the youths with means appropriate for dispersing demonstrations.

Police confirm that nine Palestinians were arrested, that more arrests will be forthcoming, and that three Border Police officers were lightly wounded in the clashes. Police deny Palestinian claims that an entire crate was stolen, but confirm that some tear gas canisters were taken by Palestinian youths when they attacked the police post.

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