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Palestinians protest Israeli president's visit to Hebron

Israeli troops fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse Palestinian protesters, joined by leftist Israelis and foreign activists
A Palestinian protester holds a placard during a demonstration against the visit of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on 2 February, 2015 near an Israeli check point in the West Bank city of Hebron (AFP)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday visited the West Bank city of Hebron amid protest by Palestinian residents as well as left-wing Israelis.

Rivlin was in Hebron to inaugurate a museum at a Jewish settlement in the city.

He also visited the settlement of Kiryat Arba, adjoining the city, and the site known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque and to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs and revered by both.

Rivlin said that Hebron bore witness to Jewish presence in Palestine for "thousands of years," according to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Palestinians, joined by leftist Israelis and foreign activists, demonstrated at a checkpoint dividing the city's sectors.

One held a placard in English reading "Rivlin is not welcome in Hebron".

Palestinians said troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them, lightly injuring one person.

Members of Israel's leftist Meretz movement said that the visit was meant for electoral propaganda for the right-wing Likud Party.

Rivlin's visit to the military-controlled zone took place under tight security.

Mahmoud al-Khatib, an MP of the Palestinian movement Hamas, described Rivlin's visit to Hebron as "rude", going on to call on the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority to shoulder its responsibilities toward preventing what he described as the Judaization of the occupied West Bank.

Anwar Badr, a member of Palestinian faction Fatah, said the visit was "part of the right-wing campaign against the Palestinian presence".

Israel razes Palestinian structures in Nablus

Meanwhile, Israeli bulldozers on Monday razed several Palestinian buildings near the West Bank city of Nablus, an official has said.

"An Israeli army force backed by several bulldozers raided the West bank town of Kasra," Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official in charge of Israeli settlements file in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, told The Anadolu Agency.

"They demolished two storage facilities used by farmers, a water well and a fence, under the pretext of having been built without permit in Area C," Daghlas said.

He also noted that violent clashes erupted between Israeli troops and residents of Kasra where Palestinian youths hurled rocks at the Israeli troops, who used teargas and rubber bullets, leaving a number Palestinians with temporary asphyxia.

The US-sponsored Oslo Accords, signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1993 and 1995, divided the West Bank into areas A, B and C.

Israel typically prevents Palestinians in the West Bank's "Area C" from erecting structures in the area on grounds that the land is under Israeli administration.

Area C, which constitutes nearly two thirds of the West Bank's total territory, remains – in line with the terms of the accords – under full Israeli security and civilian control.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city of Jerusalem in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state in a move never recognized by the international community.

Two Palestinians injured by Israeli gunfire

Two Palestinians were injured on Monday by Israeli gunfire during clashes in Qalandia refugee camp near occupied East Jerusalem, eyewitnesses said.

An Israeli army force stormed the camp for arrests, prompting clashes between the Israeli troops and local Palestinian youths, according to the witnesses.

The Israeli forces used live ammunition, rubber bullets and stun grenades against stone-throwing Palestinians, leaving two of the latter wounded by gunfire in the leg, they added.

The Israeli troops detained five youths from the camp before leaving it in the early hours of the day, the witnesses said.

Israeli forces routinely launch detention campaigns against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on the pretext that they are "wanted" by the Israeli authorities.

Over 7,000 Palestinians are currently languishing in prisons throughout Israel, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs.

Separately on Monday, a Palestinian teenager war reportedly shot by a Jewish settler in Jerusalem.

"The 17-year old Jerusalemite Mohammad Yousef Burqan was injured in his leg after an Israeli settler shot hit while he was herding his sheep in the neighbourhood of Wad Yasool in Silwan," reported the website.

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