UK & World News

  • 25 July 2014, 11:25

Israel On Alert After Deadly West Bank Clashes

Israeli security forces have been put on heightened alert after two Palestinians were killed during a massive protest in the West Bank.

The victims were among an estimated 10,000 people who clashed violently with soldiers and border police at a checkpoint in Qalandiya, between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

The protest came hours after 15 people were killed and more than 200 injured when a UN-run school in the city of Beit Hanoun, Gaza, was hit by an Israeli artillery shell.

Israel said today it had deployed thousands of security forces were deployed in and around Jerusalem to "deal with any disturbances".

The move came as Palestinians said Israeli aircraft struck 30 homes in Gaza early this morning, killing a senior militant.

Sky's David Bowden in Ashkelon, near Israel's border with Gaza, said: "After Friday prayers who knows what might happen. We are coming to the end of Ramadan. All of this is boiling up now."

Israel's security cabinet is meeting later to decide whether to expand its operation or consider a US-drafted proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza.

At least 90 people were injured in Thursday night's checkpoint clashes in the West Bank, with reports live fire was being used.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told the AFP news agency soldiers used "riot disposal means" to control the protest.

She said: "There are thousands of rioters there. They are rolling burning tyres and throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks at soldiers and border police."

The school that was hit in Beit Hanoun was being used as a shelter by hundreds of Palestinians who fled their homes two weeks ago because of airstrikes.

It is the fourth time a UN facility has been hit during the recent conflict.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "I was shocked and appalled by what has happened in Beit Hanoun. It is totally unacceptable."

Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN's Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, said a window to allow civilians to leave the area was never granted.

He added: "The consequences of that appear to be tragic."

But the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), posting on its official Twitter feed, said the Red Cross had received its message to evacuate civilians from the school, butHamas had prevented people evacuating the area.

The IDF added: "Several rockets launched from Gaza toward Israel fell short and hit Beit Hanoun."

Israel's military said it had acted "against a terrorist target located in a populated area" and promised a probe into what happened.

"I accept it could have been Israeli fire" that landed on the UN school in Gaza, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said.

Last week, the UNRWAslammed militants after it discovered around 20 rockets were being kept in one of its schools.

More than 800 Palestinians have been killed in 17 days of fighting in Gaza, according to health officials. More than 140,000 people have fled the conflict.

Some 32 Israeli soldiers have also been killed, and three civilians have died in Israel from rocket fire.

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