JERUSALEM — Israeli soldiers and armed settlers fired at West Bank villagers during a clash yesterday, wounding eight, Israelis and Palestinians said.
A Palestinian witness said villagers were tending to trees damaged by settlers when settlers attacked them, setting off a rock-throwing clash. The witness, Ibrahim Wadi, 50, said soldiers arrived and fired at them, wounding several.
The confrontation took place near the West Bank city of Nablus.
The Israeli military said that during a clash, Palestinians threw rocks at soldiers, who tried to disperse the gathering and then opened fire at their legs. The military said settlers also fired at the Palestinians, wounding three.
Soldiers fired rubber-coated steel pellets at the Palestinians, the military said. Also, an officer fired live bullets at a Palestinian who came at him with an iron pick and another who tried to drag a settler away.
Raed Odeh, another Palestinian witness, said a settler fired an assault rifle, and soldiers used “live bullets, rubber bullets, and tear gas, everything.’’
Palestinian hospital officials said one of the eight was seriously wounded. Most suffered leg wounds.
Tension runs high between Palestinians, Israeli settlers, and the military. About 300,000 Israeli settlers live in more than 100 West Bank enclaves. Palestinians claim the West Bank for part of their future state.
In a separate development, Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague announced the UK will upgrade the status of Palestinian representatives in London, ahead of talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hague is to meet with Abbas in London today and said he would also raise his concern over the lack of progress on resuming Middle East peace talks.
He told lawmakers that the Palestinian representation would be recognized as a full diplomatic mission, rather that its previous status as a delegation.