A 15-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli army fire during confrontations in the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Wednesday.
The ministry said 16 other Palestinians were wounded, two of them gravely.
The violence erupted against the backdrop of a tour by Israeli settlers to what they say is a Hasmonean era fortress at an archaeological site near Nablus in Area B, a zone comprising about a fifth of the West Bank ,which is under Palestinian civilian control and Israeli security control.
The tour – organized by a right-wing group that focuses on preserving West Bank antiquities – departed from the settlement of Itamar, outside Nablus, with Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan. The trip had been slated to take place two weeks ago, but was delayed by lack of an army permit.
About 300 Palestinians came to protest the tour at an encampment erected near the site a day earlier.
A resident of the West Bank village of Beta said Israeli troops arrived at the site at 5:30 A.M. on Wednesday and fired tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the protesters. The confrontations went on for the duration of the tour.
Two months ago, the Beta Municipality decided to designate the fortress as a tourist site.
It unfurled a Palestinian flag there and began paving a road to the fortress. The tour’s organizers of the accused the Palestinians of taking over the fortress and destroying it.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that “some 500 Palestinians took part in a violent disturbance of the peace near the village of Beta.
“The protesters hurled stones at IDF soldiers and burned tires.” The army added that it was investigating the report that a Palestinian was killed there and several other people were wounded in the incident.
On Tuesday, a 14-year-old Israeli from the settlement of Yitzhar was hospitalized in moderate condition with a head injury at the site on Tuesday. Israeli police said it had received reports of stone-throwing between Palestinians and settlers south of Nablus.