Ramallah – So much attention has been focused on the question of whether violence will break out in the West Bank due the historic United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood. Yesterday, mass peaceful rallies were held inside West Bank cities such as Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron. However, late yesterday afternoon, clashes between stone throwing Palestinian youth and rubber bullet firing Israeli soldiers broke out at the Qalandia checkpoint, the main checkpoint separating Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Israel has sealed the Qalandia checkpoint to Palestinian traffic randomly for the past several days, citing security concerns and leading to frustration among local Palestinians. Yesterday, the frustration boiled over into clashes which lasted until the evening. Palestinians threw stones and rolled burning tires at Israeli soldiers, who returned fire with a mix of tear gas, rubber and live bullets. Some Palestinian protesters even fired what seemed to be fireworks at the Israeli soldiers guarding the checkpoint (see video).
When the dust settled, three Palestinian youth were left with medium to serious injuries caused by Israeli rubber bullets. One 15-year-old Palestinian boy lost his eye after an Israeli soldier fired a rubber bullet directly at his head. The Israeli military did not report any injuries during the clashes at the time of writing.
Ten Palestinians were arrested by soldiers and Israeli undercover police, and they are currently being held at the Ofer military jail outside of Ramallah. As you can see in the embedded video, both the Palestinians and the Israeli army are playing with fire in Qalandia. It might only be a matter of time before things get out of control.