Israeli soldiers killed four Palestinians and wounded at least 18 in the most intense clashes in months in the occupied territories, Arab reports said. The army confirmed two dead and nine wounded in the clashes.
The increased violence resulted in the cancellation of the traditional Palm Sunday procession for the second year. Officials of the Latin Patriarch apparently feared stone-throwing incidents might mar the procession that retraces the route believed taken by Jesus into Jerusalem’s walled Old City.
Palm Sunday marks the start of Easter Holy Week, the most sacred time of the year in Christianity. The canceled procession would have passed through Arab East Jerusalem, the scene Sunday of sporadic demonstrations and stone throwing.
Protests erupted in the occupied Gaza Strip after three Arabs were killed by Israeli gunfire and at least 20 others were wounded Saturday.
Early Sunday, a 26-year-old Palestinian was shot to death after stabbing three Israeli border police in Gaza City, the army said.
Israel Radio said the border guards were wounded as they broke into a house in pursuit of the masked Palestinian who fled after hurling rocks at troops. Two of the soldiers were reported in fair condition and the third was slightly wounded.
The dead man was identified by hospital officials as Talal Selim Araj, from the city’s Daraj neighborhood. The officials said he was shot in the head and chest.
Arab Boy Fatally Shot
In the afternoon, a 15-year-old Arab boy was fatally shot in the city after hurling a bottle at soldiers. The army said the soldier who opened fire thought the bottle was a firebomb. Soldiers have orders allowing them to shoot if attacked with firebombs.
The name of the boy was not released.
Israel Radio and Arab reports said two other Palestinians, including a 12-year-old, were shot to death as troops opened fire on stone-throwing youths in Silet Hartihiya, a village near the West Bank town of Janin.
The victims were identified by Arab reporters as Samer Mohammed Arouri, 12, and Neman Jaradat, 18, who both were reported shot in the head.
Most of the injuries were reported in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians staged a general strike to protest three shooting deaths the day before.