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Palestinians protest heritage plan
By Efrat Weiss
Some 100 Palestinians on Monday marched toward the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s last minute decision to include the site in the national heritage plan.
The Palestinians hurled stones toward security forces that responded with crowd control means.
The Palestinians in the city declared a general strike in protest of the Israeli government`s decision. Businesses and Palestinian Authority`s offices were closed, and protest rallies were held in local schools.
During the processions clashes broke out between the demonstrators and IDF soldiers near the city`s Shuhada Street. No arrests or injuries were reported.
The cabinet on Sunday approved a comprehensive plan to preserve heritage sites across the country – an investment of some NIS 400 million (roughly $106 million). At the last minute, following pressure from a number of right-wing sources and ministers, the prime minister added two sites to the plan: Rachel`s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The ministers unanimously approved the plan.
The Palestinian Authority expressed its concern with the decision, and Fatah members said Sunday that the plan was Netanyahu`s attempt to `harm international aimed at renewing peace talks.`
Sunday evening security forces were called to one such worship site, south of Hebron, when dozens of right-wing activists broke through IDF checkpoints in the West Bank and locked themselves inside a synagogue in Jericho.
They were forcefully evacuated and transferred for questioning. 33 of the activists were later released and two remained in custody after allegedly assaulting a Border Guard officer and an IDF officer.
Ali Waked contributed to this report
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