Israeli forces clash with protesters in West Bank, no injuries or arrests



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JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said Friday it dispersed some 300 stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank city of Hebron without injuries or arrests.

Smaller clashes also took place at two other West Bank locations — Qalandiya and Kadom — also without injuries or arrests, the army said.

Meanwhile five Hamas activists were arrested Thursday in the West Bank, according to the Islamic militant group.

The clashes came amid roiling tensions, mostly over Palestinian claims that Israel wants to change the status quo at a contested Jerusalem holy site.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied that change is in the offing at the site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and Jews at the Temple Mount, but some government ministers and Netanyahu coalition partners want the prayers allowed.

No serious incidents were reported there by Israeli police during prayers on Friday, which for the second week in a row were open to all Muslim worshippers regardless of age.

Muslims officials said 45,000 people attended the prayers.

In recent weeks 11 people have been killed by Palestinian attackers in five separate incidents, mostly in Jerusalem, but also in Tel Aviv and the West Bank. Five of the Palestinian assailants were killed by security forces.

Netanyahu has ordered a get-tough policy to deal with the violence and earlier this week Israel demolished the east Jerusalem home of one of the attackers, renewing a practice that had largely been suspended since 2005, when the Israeli military concluded it lacked efficacy. On Thursday four more demolition notices were issued in east Jerusalem, including to the families of two cousins who carried out a grisly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday.

In that incident four worshippers and a policeman died, and both of the assailants were killed by security forces.

The arrest of the Hamas members on Thursday underscores the tense relations between the rival factions. Hamas spokesman Husam Badran said in a message from Doha, Qatar that the Palestinian Authority is "trying to kill the Jerusalem uprising."

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