Hebron protesters clash with Israeli troops

HEBRON, Palestinian Territories — At least nine people were wounded on Friday as Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli troops in the southern West Bank town of Hebron, medics and the army said.

Some of the estimated 1,000 protesters, who included Israelis and foreign activists, threw stones at troops, who responded with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.

Palestinian medics told AFP that at least four people were injured, while the army said five border police were also hurt.

The demonstration, which called for the reopening of one of the city’s main streets came on the anniversary of the 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinians in Hebron by a Jewish extremist.

“There was a violent and illegal riot in Hebron,” the Israeli military said, putting the size of the crowd at around 300. An AFP photographer and correspondent said 1,000 people attended the rally.

The Israeli military said the crowd “confronted security forces in an effort to enter the Jewish community and the forces used riot dispersal means and the riot was dispersed.”

The military said it arrested one Palestinian, while protesters said at least 10 people were detained during the demonstration.

Protesters, who waved Palestinian flags chanting “Down with the occupation!” and “Hebron is Palestinian,” said they were trying to reopen central Shuhada (Martyrs) Street, once home to the city’s main market.

Israel largely closed off the street, citing security, after the 1994 massacre in the holy site known as the Cave of the Patriarchs by Jews and the Ibrahimi mosque by Muslims. Both religions regard the site as holy.

Hebron, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, is also home to around 600 right-wing religious Jewish settlers, most of whom live in the area around Shuhada Street.

In 2003, Israel’s Supreme Court backed an appeal by Palestinian traders, ordering that the settlers be evicted and the market reopened, but the orders were never implemented.

Under a 1997 accord with the Palestinian Authority, Israeli troops evacuated 80 percent of the city but continue to protect the settlers living around the Cave of the Patriarchs.

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