HEBRON, Israeli-occupied West Bank — A group of Jewish settlers, enraged by the stabbing of a rabbinical student by an Arab, turned their anger on Western journalists today, attacking a number of them and sending a woman photographer for Time magazine to the hospital with a head injury.
Although army troops have roughed up reporters in the past, it was believed to be the first such attack by Jewish settlers. It came amid stepped-up criticism of what many Israelis see as biased media coverage.
Meanwhile, soldiers firing to break up crowds of stone-throwing protesters in the West Bank shot and wounded three Palestinians.
Police also reported several cases of sabotage inside Israel, including the slaughtering of thousands of chickens.
In Hebron, Aaron Peretz, 16, was stabbed in the back as he walked to a store in the biblical West Bank city that is home to about 70,000 Arabs and 320 militant Jewish settlers, the army said.
Soldiers slammed shut the casbah marketplace and searched the area for suspects. No arrests were made.
Stabbed While Shopping
Peretz, a yeshiva student, said from his bed at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem that he had gone shopping for caps for a toy gun and was stabbed in the back by a Palestinian assailant.
Time magazine photographer Rina Castelnuovo, 35, said she was near the casbah taking pictures of Jewish children wearing costumes to celebrate the carnival-style festival of Purim when Peretz and other settlers began chasing Arabs through the area.
Castelnuovo said settlers attacked several photographers, grabbed her camera from her hands and smashed it over her head. She blacked out and was taken to a hospital, where she received five stitches to close the gash.
Castelnuovo's husband, Reuters photographer Jim Hollander, was also hit in the face with his camera, injuring his lip and smashing his glasses. Troops intervened to stop the attack.
Some Palestinians glared and some just seemed amused as 150 Jewish settlers marched through the streets of Hebron, dancing and singing, while a nearby mosque blared calls for Muslim prayers.
In nearby Idna, troops shot and wounded two Palestinians in the legs during demonstrations sparked by a pre-dawn search-and-arrest operation in search of "troublemakers and bus burners," an army spokesman said.
'Stones From All Directions'
"Residents attacked the force with stones from all directions, and in reaction the soldiers opened fire," the spokesman said.
In a similar clash, troops shot and wounded 19-year-old Mohammed Suleiman Rushti in the head during a raid on Beita village near Nablus, military sources said.
In the last week, right-wing officials have stepped up calls to bar reporters from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, charging they have fueled the unrest.