Clashes erupted when Israeli forces invaded the West Bank city of Ramallah early Thursday in what the military described as an operation to demolish the home of a Palestinian accused of a double-bombing in Jerusalem last year.
According to the Palestinian health ministry, at least 35 persons were injured, with at least 20 of them hit by live bullets. Two persons were seriously injured in the abdomen, while a third was shot in the head with a rubber bullet.
A Reuters journalist said a large military convoy arrived in downtown Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government in the occupied West Bank, leading hundreds of Palestinians to gather in the area.
Some Palestinian youths hurled stones at the Israeli soldiers, who fired live bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at the crowd, the journalist said. Trash bins that were set on fire blocked roads as ambulance sirens wailed.
The military said soldiers were confronted by crowds throwing petrol bombs and rocks and responded with live fire. It said a Palestinian photojournalist was hit by a rubber bullet and the incident was being reviewed.
The Israeli military said its forces carried out the operation to demolish the house of Islam Faroukh, who was arrested last year on suspicion of carrying out a deadly bombing attack in Jerusalem.
The attack in November killed two people, including an Israeli-Canadian teenager, and wounded at least 14 others in what police said were coordinated explosions of improvised bombs planted at bus stops near the city exit and in a junction leading to a settlement.
Israel routinely destroys the houses of those it suspects of carrying out attacks as a deterrence measure that critics see as collective punishment, which is illegal under international humanitarian law.
“What the occupation authorities did was a heinous crime,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh was quoted as saying the the official WAFA news agency. “It turned an entire family overnight into a homeless family.”
Hours before the raid, the U.S. envoy to Palestinians, Hady Amr, met with senior Palestinian official Hussein Al-Sheikh.
Violence in the West Bank, among territories where Palestinians seek statehood, has risen sharply during the past year. Israel has intensified its military raids amid a spate of deadly street attacks carried out by Palestinians in its cities.
The Palestinian health ministry said at least 158 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since January. Israel’s foreign ministry said 20 Israelis and two foreign nationals have been killed in Palestinian attacks in the same period.