World Bulletin / News Desk
Clashes erupted Tuesday between dozens of Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces in the southern West Bank city of Hebron after Israeli troops killed two Palestinians suspected of kidnapping and killing three Jewish settlers this summer.
Israeli forces used teargas, live ammunition and rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Palestinian protesters in Hebron's Jamaa and Ras al-Joura neighborhoods, eyewitnesses said.
Several protesters suffered temporary asphyxiation after inhaling teargas, witnesses added.
Hebron province spokesman Hossam Abdeen told Anadolu Agency that the Israeli army had besieged the Jamaa neighborhood and was barring local residents from entering the area.
The army also destroyed 15 shops in the neighborhood, Abdeen added.
Earlier Tuesday, the Israeli army said it had killed two suspects – Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha – after besieging the building in which they had been holed up in central Hebron.
A joint force consisting of army troops and internal security agency (Shin Bet) agents managed to track the pair down and kill them, according to an army statement.
Israeli authorities had accused the two men of having been recruited by a West Bank Palestinian named Hossam Qawasmeh – currently in Israeli custody – to help the latter kidnap and kill three teenage Jewish settlers in June.
The Israeli authorities further claimed that Qawasmeh had confessed to receiving funds from Hamas to recruit Abu Aisha and Qawasmeh for the operation.
The Israeli government has repeatedly accused Hamas of kidnapping the three settlers, who went missing from a Jewish-only settlement in the southern West Bank on June 12 and later turned up dead.
Hamas, for its part, dismisses the claims, describing them as "fabrications."
"After consultations within the Palestinian delegation and brothers in Gaza and abroad it was decided to continue the Cairo meetings," Mahmoud al-Zahar told Reuters by phone from the Egyptian capital after a member of the team said it was considering withdrawing from the talks.
Zahar condemned the killing earlier on Tuesday of two Palestinians. But he said Israel must not be given any pretext "to escape from commitments" of an Aug. 26 truce that called for talks within a month on long-term border arrangements for the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Since mid-June, Israeli forces have detained hundreds of West Bank Palestinians – including several Hamas lawmakers and former cabinet ministers – against the backdrop of the three settlers' death.
The Palestinian delegation said the timing of the Hebron raid was intended to undermine the talks. "It comes as part of the stalling of the indirect negotiations to end the suffering of our people," a statement said.
Fifty days of conflict between Hamas and Israel has left devastation in some Gaza districts, in the small, densely populated territory of 1.8 million people. More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in the fighting, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were also killed.
The Palestinians are expected to press for construction of a sea port for Gaza and Israel's release of Hamas prisoners in the West Bank, possibly in a trade for the remains of two Israeli soldiers believed to be held by the group.
At last month's talks, the two sides did not meet face-to-face but conducted their negotiations through Egyptian officials.Last Mod: 23 Eylül 2014, 14:14