More riots in Hebron over shrine dispute
Riots broke out again in the West Bank town of Hebron on Friday as angry Palestinian youths pelted Israeli soldiers with stones.
Palestinians have been violently protesting in Hebron since Israel declared this week that it would add the Cave of Patriarchs to its list of national heritage sites.
But bad weather limited the number of protests on Friday and Israeli security forces used tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Israeli security forces have been on heightened alert in Hebron after Israel decided to place the two biblical tombs on a list of national heritage sites, which are considered sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians.
The Cave of the Patriarchs is believed to contain the remains of a number of biblical figures including those of Abraham and his wife Sarah. Rachel's tomb is known to Palestinians as the Bilal Ibn Rabah mosque.
In a symbolic move, Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayed attended Friday prayers at the tomb of Abraham, asserting a Palestinian presence there after days of violence.
Speaking to reporters after prayers, Fayyad accused Israel of "annexing" it.
Israel has said that it had added the sites to a list of Jewish shrines due for restoration. It promised that Muslims would still be free to worship there.
"There are many places that are holy to all of us so we are not monopolizing," said Israeli President Shimon Peres. "And in the Cave of the Monarchs, a holy site for Jews and Muslims as they call it, we even made arrangements that everybody will pray."
Palestinians claim the move is an attempt by Israel to cement its presence in the West Bank and deny them access to their own lands and heritage.
"By calling these places part of their historical heritage, they are trying to confirm their historical ownership of the land … their illusionary heritage on our land," said Tawfiq Salah, deputy mayor of al-Kader, near Bethlehem.
The tensions in Hebron are of particular concern, the city long a flashpoint with some 400 hard-line Jewish settlers living in heavily guarded enclaves in a city of some 150,000 Palestinians.
With files from The Associated Press