RAMALLAH, West Bank – An 18-year-old protester shot by Israeli troops during a demonstration over the killing of a Palestinian toddler died of his wounds Saturday, Palestinian health officials said.
Ahmad Betawi, the director of the Ramallah hospital, said Laith al-Khaldi died after being shot in the chest Friday during a demonstration over the burning death of a Palestinian toddler in a fire set by suspected Jewish extremists. The Israeli military says it shot al-Khaldi near Ramallah after he hurled a fire bomb at them.
Al-Khaldi was buried Saturday and small skirmishes ensued.
Tensions remain high after suspected Jewish assailants set fire to a West Bank home and burned the sleeping Palestinian toddler to death. The child's 4-year-old brother and both his parents were also seriously wounded. The attack drew Palestinian anger and widespread Israeli condemnation.
About 2,000 Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Hebron. Saturday saw only minor clashes as Israel deployed greater crowd control forces to try and prevent further escalation.
The Palestinians accuse Israel of not doing enough to protect them from extremist Jewish settlers. Israel fears the incident could spark wider unrest and has called for calm.
The extremists have for years staged attacks against Palestinian property, as well as mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases. The attacks, known as "price tags" because they exact a price for Israeli steps seen as favorable to the Palestinians, have stirred fear in Palestinians but rarely any deaths — which made Friday's incident, in which 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh was killed all the more startling.
Hundreds of Israelis gathered in a Tel Aviv square Saturday night to condemn the arson attack and show solidarity with the Palestinian family. Protesters held banners reading "enough incitement, enough violence" and called on the government to crack down on settler lawlessness in the West Bank. The slain child's uncle addressed the crowd.
Other anti-violence protests were taking place in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv after an anti-gay ultra-Orthodox extremist stabbed revelers at Jerusalem's Gay Pride Parade. Though still marginal, the recent spate of attacks has raised fears that a radicalized and violent ultraconservative fringe is growing from within the country's hard-line national-religious camp.