RAMALLAH, Palestine: Israeli soldiers shot and wounded 10 Palestinians near the West Bank town of Ramallah Friday during a protest over the killing of a teenager, Palestinian medics and security sources said.
In Gaza, meanwhile, medics said five more Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army gunfire near the border fence with Israel.
They said the Palestinians were hit by live rounds on the outskirts of Jalazun refugee camp and hospitalized in Ramallah, including one with serious injuries.
Hundreds of Palestinians took part in the protest, many of them hurling rocks at the soldiers.
The demonstration was called to protest at the Israeli army’s killing Wednesday of Mohammad Mubarak, a 19-year-old from Jalazun working on a project funded by USAID and son of the camp’s locally elected leader.
The army said that he was shot dead near a Jewish settlement outside Ramallah after having opened fire at them, but witnesses insisted he was unarmed.
Palestinian Housing and Public Works Minister Maher Ghneim condemned what he branded the “cold-blooded killing” of a laborer who was working on a project run by the ministry in coordination with USAID.
Ghneim said the youth had been “carrying a sign to direct the traffic” when he was shot.
A total of 27 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army in the West Bank in 2013, three times more than the previous year, figures from Israeli rights watchdog B’Tselem showed.
Elsewhere Friday, some 300 Palestinians accompanied by Israeli activists occupied around a dozen abandoned houses Friday near Jericho in the occupied West Bank, an AFP journalist said.
The protest was aimed at denouncing the repeated refusal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to dismantle Jewish settlements and agree to a pullout from the Jordan Valley.
The protesters arrived by bus and car and paraded a banner proclaiming “No peace with settlements,” signed by the Youth Against Settlements group.
They brought generators with them, indicating that they plan to at least stay overnight.
Israeli police and soldiers deployed in the area, but made no immediate move to disperse the protest.
On Saturday, EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton will chair a meeting of top international officials working on the Israel-Palestinian peace process, saying Friday that “bold” decisions are needed.
“This meeting takes place in a moment when difficult and bold decisions need to be made,” Ashton said in a statement.
Ashton said she would be joined on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, envoy for the so-called Quarter helping to shepherd the fragile peace process – which includes the EU in addition to the U.N., U.S. and Russia.
Kerry has been leading a new push for a Middle East peace since July, engaging in talks with all interested parties even as Israel and the Palestinians continue to trade barbs, especially over Israeli plans for new settlements in the West Bank.
“The dividends of peace for Israelis and Palestinians are enormous,” Ashton said.
“I hope that together we can help those [bold] decisions to become a reality to continue working toward a negotiated peace agreement, setting an end to the conflict and fulfilling the legitimate aspirations of both parties.”