JERUSALEM (May. 4)
The Israel Defense Force was hard pressed to maintain order as rampaging Jewish settlers and Arab rock-throwers clashed in and around Hebron on Thursday, for the second consecutive day.
The military kept a high profile in the West Bank town, chasing Palestinian youths and keeping an eye on militant settlers in adjacent Kiryat Arba, who threatened to open fire if stoned, regardless of regulations.
Two firebombs were thrown Thursday evening at Beit Romano, in the Jewish section of Hebron. There were no injuries or damage.
The precarious relations between Jewish settlers and Arab residents of the West Bank flared into violence Wednesday night.
Dozens of settlers from Kiryat Arba surged through downtown Hebron, smashing Arab cars and damaging homes.
The vandalism was triggered by reports that Jewish cars were being stoned at Halhoul, about six miles up the road from Hebron. The settlers set out in their cars for Halhoul, but were stopped by army roadblocks.
Frustrated, they turned their wrath on Arabs in Hebron.
The Arabs retaliated by stoning Kiryat Arba buildings from an adjacent road. Jews, in turn, stoned nearby Arab homes.
The situation escalated when a burning tire thrown at the Kiryat Araba fence was thrown back by the settlers in the direction of a mosque.
It ignited a pile of wood. Moslem worshipers, emerging from prayers ending the Ramadan fast day, thought the tire was intended to set the mosque on fire.
They approached the Kiryat Arba fence chanting “Allah akhbar” (God is great). They reportedly dispersed when settlers opened fire. No one was hurt.
Aharon Domb, a leader of the Kiryat Arba community, said Thursday the situation in Hebron has reached an all-time low.