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Palestinians, Settlers Clash Overnight 06/22 06:11


   JERUSALEM (AP) -- Palestinians and Jewish settlers hurled stones, chairs and 
fireworks at each other overnight in a tense Jerusalem neighborhood where 
settler groups are trying to evict several Palestinian families, officials said 

   The threatened evictions fueled protests and clashes in the runup to last 
month's 11-day Gaza war and pose a test for Israel's new governing coalition, 
which includes three pro-settler parties but is hoping to sideline the 
Palestinian issue to avoid internal divisions.

   Israeli police and border officials said they arrested four suspects in the 
Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. It was unclear who started the brawl. The officials 
said someone launched fireworks at police forces and residents' houses and that 
"several Molotov cocktails were thrown and stones were thrown." One woman was 
reportedly injured when she was hit in the back by a stone, police said.

   The Red Crescent emergency service said its crews treated 20 Palestinians, 
including 16 suffering from pepper spray and tear gas and others wounded by 
rubber-coated bullets. Two other people were wounded, including an elderly man 
who was hit in the head, it said.

   The Red Crescent said settlers threw stones at one of its ambulances and 
Israeli forces sprayed skunk water on a second ambulance belonging to the 

   The eruption of violence is the latest friction in Sheikh Jarrah, where 
weeks of unrest captured international attention ahead of the 11-day 
Israel-Hamas war last month. The cease-fire took effect on May 21, but the 
long-running campaign by Jewish settlers to evict dozens of Palestinian 
families continues.

   And so the cycle of tension endures, in a stark early test for Israel's new 
coalition government, which is just over a week old.

   At the helm under a rotation agreement is Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, 
head of the right-wing Yamina party. In two years, he'll be replaced by Yair 
Lapid, leader of centrist Yesh Atid. And leading the opposition is Likud leader 
Benjamin Netanyahu, ousted from the premiership after holding the post for 12 

   An intervention by Israel's attorney general at the height of the unrest has 
put the most imminent evictions on hold. But rights groups say evictions could 
still proceed in the coming months as international attention wanes, 
potentially igniting another round of bloodshed.

   The settlers have been waging a decades-long campaign to evict the families 
from densely populated Palestinian neighborhoods in the so-called Holy Basin 
just outside the walls of the Old City, in one of the most sensitive parts of 
east Jerusalem.

   Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to holy sites sacred to Jews, 
Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 war and annexed it in a move not recognized 
internationally. Israel views the entire city as its capital, while the 
Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

   The settlers say the homes are built on land that was owned by Jews prior to 
the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation. Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim 
such property, a right denied to Palestinians who lost lands and homes in the 
same conflict.

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