Israel ups West Bank forces before Palestinian UN bid


Israel has boosted its army presence in the West Bank ahead of a Palestinian recourse to the UN amid fears they may resort to the International Criminal Court over Jewish settlements, reports said on Friday. Public radio reported the build-up and the daily Yediot Aharonot said three battalions of reservists — some 1,500 personnel — have been mobilised and units already in the occupied territory have been reinforced.
The move comes ahead of expected Palestinian demonstrations as their statehood bid looms at the United Nations on September 23, public radio said. General Avi Mizrahi, the commander of central Israel which includes the West Bank, has issued strict orders to the military to act with restraint and avoid bloodshed if trouble erupts, Yediot Aharonot said.
It said troops in the Palestinian territory have been armed with anti-riot equipment including tear gas to enable them to control any protests without having to resort to live ammunition.
The military is also reported to have boosted its presence around Jewish settlements in the West Bank, both to protect them and to prevent attacks on Palestinians by extremist settlers.
Officials said one Palestinian and an Israeli settler were wounded on Friday in clashes in the village of Kusra in the northern West Bank. Around a dozen settlers tried to enter Kusra but were stopped by residents who feared they were about to be attacked and began beating them, Palestinian officials said.
One settler pulled out a pistol and shot a Palestinian in the leg.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said the clash happened in a disputed area outside Kusra between residents and people from the nearby settlement of Esh Hakodesh. She said the wounded Israeli had been stabbed and confirmed a Palestinian had been shot. Settlers have said they plan to march on Palestinian cities if the Palestinians hold protest marches around settlements during their UN membership bid, settler leaders said on September 7.
“We will leave our communities and march peacefully towards Palestinian towns — Hebron, Ramallah or Nablus,” said Yaakov Katz, a far-right member of the Israeli parliament.


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