Palestinian demonstrators hurl stones toward Israeli security forces during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron, on October 30, 2015
Palestinian demonstrators hurl stones toward Israeli security forces during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron, on October 30, 2015 © Thomas Coex - AFP
Palestinian demonstrators hurl stones toward Israeli security forces during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron, on October 30, 2015
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AFP
Last updated: January 1, 1970

Two Palestinians try to stab Israeli police, are shot

A Palestinian baby boy died Friday after choking on tear gas fired by Israeli forces, Palestinian officials said, as new knife attacks and clashes shook Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Eight-month-old Ramadan Thawabteh was the latest victim of violence that erupted a month ago in Jerusalem but has shifted to the occupied West Bank, with daily knife attacks on Israeli soldiers and violent protests.

Meanwhile, Jerusalem saw its first knife attack in two weeks when a Palestinian youth stabbed and lightly wounded an American tourist before being shot dead, police said.

Many fear the unrest heralds a new intifada, or uprising, against Israel by a generation gripped by despair and anger over decades of occupation and stalled peace efforts.

In the city of Nablus, two Palestinians allegedly tried to stab members of Israeli forces guarding a checkpoint and were shot, police said. One died and the other, only wounded, was arrested.

In the volatile West Bank city of Hebron hundreds of youths threw stones and firebombs and rolled burning tyres at soldiers, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, an AFP journalist said.

Amid clashes in Bethlehem, tear gas fired asphyxiated the baby, a Palestinian health ministry spokesman told AFP.

It was not immediately clear if a tear gas grenade had entered the baby's home or if the gas had seeped in from outside.

Clashes also erupted in Ramallah where an AFP journalist reported an Israeli army jeep hit a crowd of protesters, injuring a young man.

Israeli police said security forces "saw a Palestinian armed with a sharp object" approaching them. An officer then ordered one of his men driving a jeep to hit the assailant who was "seriously injured".

The Palestinian health ministry reported eight youths wounded by gunfire and another hit by a rubber bullet in Ramallah.

In the blockaded Gaza Strip, where 17 Palestinians have died in clashes in recent weeks, protesters clashed with Israeli forces along the northern and eastern borders.

More than 50 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire in Gaza, and two were in a critical condition, medical sources said.

- Abbas at the ICC -

Palestinian officials Friday urged the International Criminal Court to accelerate its probe into accusations of "Israeli war crimes", handing over a new 52-page dossier alleging summary killings and collective punishment.

A delegation led by president Mahmud Abbas asked prosecutor Fatou Bensouda "to expedite" a preliminary inquiry into alleged crimes over the past 40 days, foreign minister Riad al-Malki said.

"It is extremely important to expedite the process... because if Israel feels impunity, what will deter Israel from multiplying the victims?" Malki asked.

Tensions first flared in September over the status of the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews, before spiralling into a series of violent attacks from October 1.

Palestinians accuse Israel of seeking to change the rules governing the site, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted he will not alter a status quo that forbids Jews from praying there.

The violence has left nine Israelis dead.

The deaths of the baby and the latest attackers took the number of Palestinians killed to 65, including many shot during protests.

One Israeli Arab attacker has also been shot dead.

Meanwhile, a 13-year-old Palestinian appeared in court Friday and was charged with attempted murder for a knife attack on two Israeli schoolboys.

- Protests in Hebron -

Many of the attackers who have targeted Israeli forces come from Hebron, a stronghold of the Islamist movement Hamas.

The city, home to the supposed final resting place of the prophet Abraham, is revered in both religions. It is another powder-keg, and many attacks have taken place around the holy site known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs.

On Friday, dozens of protesters outside the site, known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque, condemned restrictions on access imposed by Israel, which has split it into a mosque and a synagogue.

Hebron, a city of 200,000 Palestinians, has long been the commercial heart of the West Bank.

But the presence of 500 Israeli settlers near the city centre, protected by barbed wire, watchtowers and a buffer zone patrolled by the army, has helped make it a hotbed for unrest.

The Maariv newspaper reported that more army checkpoints were being set up in Hebron at the entrances and exits to Jewish areas, where Palestinians aged 15 to 25 will not be allowed to pass.

One trigger for anger in Hebron in recent days has been an Israeli policy of withholding the bodies of attackers as a deterrent, infuriating Muslims who have strict burial rites.

The Israeli army said Friday it had returned seven bodies to Palestinian families in what appeared to be an effort to ease tensions.

However, this is likely to lead to massive gatherings at funerals on Saturday.

Israeli Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan has said the government wants to prevent families making funerals a "show of support for terrorism and incitation to murder".

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