Israeli soldiers, Palestinians clash; tear gas lands near school

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian police trained their rifles on Israeli troops during stone-throwing clashes Monday in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
Palestinian police crouched in firing position as Israeli soldiers pursued stone-throwers into Palestinian-controlled territory. The soldiers retreated, firing tear gas toward the stone-throwers and police.
Several tear gas canisters fired by the soldiers landed near a Palestinian girls’ school, and 20 girls were taken to a hospital for treatment.
In the school’s open courtyard, girls in green-and-white-stripe uniforms coughed and wiped away tears with handkerchiefs while they were evacuated.
It was the fourth consecutive day of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem, as frustration grows over the deadlocked peace process.
Monday’s clashes began when about 20 Palestinians pelted Israeli soldiers with stones near Rachel’s Tomb, an Israeli-controlled shrine on the outskirts of the Palestinian-run West Bank town. The soldiers responded with rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades. Palestinian police initially pushed back the crowd of stone-throwers.
On Sunday, Israeli troops and Palestinian police briefly trained weapons on one another across the line dividing Israeli and Palestinian-controlled areas near Rachel’s Tomb.