Violence Flares in the West Bank

By Michael Tobin | | February 24, 2010

When the peace process is deadlocked and Palestinian hopes for statehood seem beyond reach, frustration peaks. Violence can flare up with only a spark.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided that spark when he included two more shrines in the list of Israeli national heritage sights.

The shrines are Rachel's tomb in Bethlehem and The tomb of the Patriarch in Hebron. The latter being particularly contentious because Abraham is believed to be buried there. Therefore, the site is sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

Netanyahu made the declaration under pressure from right wing politicians in his government. Palestinians viewed it as a land grab. President Mahmoud Abbas from the Fatah party called the move a "severe provocation" and said it could spark a religious war.

The Gaza based Prime Minister from the radical Hamas, Ismayel Haniya, called on Palestinians to return to the streets and begin another "Intifada" or uprising.

The young rock throwers had already answered his call. In the West Bank town of Hebron they have taken to the streets for the last two days throwing rock. In the usual cat and mouse game, Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said the clashes were trumped up with the intention of putting pressure on Israel.