Israeli officials say dozens of Jewish settlers have taken over a number of Palestinian buildings in the heart of the West Bank city of Hebron.

Police said about 100 settlers entered three "empty stores."

Zeev Elkin, a pro-settler lawmaker from the ruling Likud party, said in a statement the settlers entered houses that were bought legally. He praised them for "expanding the Jewish presence" in the city.

The military said clashes broke out when the settlers arrived to the area Thursday.

Hebron is a frequent flashpoint for violence. Some 850 Israeli settlers live in heavily-guarded enclaves surrounded by tens of thousands of Palestinians.