Stone-throwing clashes erupted for a fifth straight day Saturday in several West Bank towns, injuring at least a dozen Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers.
In a separate development, police said they suspected Palestinians of planting an explosive device that blew off the hands of an Israeli man in the small town of Afula in northern Israel. No one else was injured.Northern regional police chief Alik Rom said police were operating on the "likelihood that it was a terrorist act," and a police spokeswoman in Afula said several Palestinians were detained for questioning.
There have been daily disturbances in the West Bank since the shooting deaths of three Palestinian workers at an Israeli roadblock Tuesday night.
In the village of Dura, the hometown of the slain men, about 200 Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli troops, who fired back tear gas and rubber bullets. Twelve Palestinians were hurt, including a journalist, as were two Israeli soldiers.
In the nearby town of Hebron, Palestinian police confronted a crowd of stone-throwing youths, and one policeman was hit in the head with a rock.
The Palestinian Cabinet, meeting for the first time since the roadblock shooting, denounced the "hideous crime" and demanded that the soldiers involved be punished. Israel is still investigating the incident.
The Afula blast came in a public park just outside the bus station in the town, about 50 miles northeast of Tel Aviv and on the edge of Palestinian-controlled territory. Afula is about five miles from the Palestinian town of Jenin, where cells from the radical Islamic group Hamas have been uncovered in the past.
Army radio said the injured man told authorities he had spotted a cardboard box he thought looked suspicious and was examining it when it exploded.
Israeli police frequently tell people to be alert for suspicious objects and always urge the public not to go near the objects and to report such findings to the nearest police station.
The Afula bus station was the scene of a major terror attack in April 1994, when a car rigged with explosives blew up, killing nine people and injuring 45. The militant Muslim group Hamas claimed responsibility.
When the Saturday blast occurred, however, the bus station was nearly deserted. There is no public transport in most Israeli cities on the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sundown Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday.