JERUSALEM (JTA) – The U.S. State Department denied Palestinian claims that a scheduled meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators was canceled over clashes in a refugee camp that left three Palestinians dead.
The clashes in the Qalandiya refugee camp, which also injured 15, took place on Monday morning. The meeting reportedly had been scheduled for that evening in the West Bank city of Jericho.
“I can assure you that no meetings have been canceled,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said during a briefing Monday. “The parties are engaged in serious and sustained negotiations.”
Border Police troops dressed as civilians entered the camp to arrest a terror suspect who was released recently from an Israeli prison, according to reports, and camp residents responded by surrounding and attacking the troops with rocks and firebombs.
The Border Police put the number of Palestinian attackers at 1,500; the Palestinian Maan news agency said there were “dozens.”
The troops and a rescue force that entered the camp with the onset of the violence used “crowd dispersal methods,” according to the Israeli military, which usually includes rubber bullets shot at demonstrators’ legs and tear gas.
In an incident captured on video,the Palestinian demonstrators also rained boulders and building materials on Israeli army jeeps.
“The string of Israeli crimes and continued settlement construction represent a clear message as to its true intentions for the peace process,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said.
P.A. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said in a statement issued after the incident, “Such a crime proves the need for an urgent and effective international protection for our people.”