Clashes in Jerusalem, flashpoint Palestinian funeral delayed

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli police clashed with Palestinians across east Jerusalem Saturday ahead of a potentially explosive funeral that was delayed for a day and tight security conditions imposed.

Relatives of Abdelrahman Shaludi, the Palestinian driver who ploughed into a Jerusalem crowd on Wednesday, killing an Israeli baby, were told to be ready to bury him Sunday night, their lawyer said.

The internment, near Jerusalem's Old City walls, will take place at 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) and must be finished by midnight, only 20 mourners will be permitted to attend and they will have to submit their names to police in advance, attorney Mohammed Mahmud said in a statement.

Police branded as a "terror attack" the incident Wednesday in which Shaludi, 21, from east Jerusalem's flashpoint Silwan neighbourhood drove at high speed into a crowd of Israelis.

Three-month-old Haya Zissel Braun was killed and six others injured.

Shaludi was shot dead by police as he fled on foot.

He was first to have been buried on Friday evening but Israeli media said security authorities wanted to impose draconian security conditions, fearing violence.

Tensions have been running high since the incident with nightly clashes across Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

As evening fell, violence again erupted there Saturday.

Silwan residents stoned a sanitation vehicle sent to clean up debris from Friday's stone-throwing, and police responded with "non-lethal means of dispersal," spokeswoman Luba Samri said, using a term generally alluding to tear gas or stun grenades.

In Al-Tur on the Mount of Olives, masked Palestinians blocked the road with garbage bins, and threw stones and petrol bombs, police said.

Near the Shuafat refugee camp stones were throne at the Jerusalem light railway, a frequent target. Police said a carriage window was damaged but no one hurt.

With tensions further stoked after the army shot dead a West Bank teenager Friday, there were also reports of stoning of Israeli vehicles on roads around Ramallah.

- US urges calm -

Relatives of the dead 14-year-old, Orwa Hammad, said his funeral would take place on Sunday, to allow his father time to travel from the United States where he is a resident citizen.

They said the teenager was also a US national, as was the baby girl killed Wednesday.

The army said Hammad had been about to hurl a petrol bomb at Israeli motorists near Ramallah when he was shot by troops on a stakeout in the village of Silwad to protect a road frequently used by Jewish settlers.

"The forces fired immediately to neutralise the danger... and confirmed a hit," a spokeswoman said.

Palestinian officials said Hammad was shot during a stone-throwing protest against troops, a regular occurrence in Silwad, which lies close to the Jewish settlement of Ofra.

Washington expressed its "deepest condolences to the family of a US citizen minor who was killed by the Israeli Defence Forces".

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called for "a speedy and transparent investigation" into the teenager's death.

"We continue to urge all parties to help restore calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of the tragic recent incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank," she added.

Hardline housing minister Uri Ariel has informed Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service that he is considering moving into Silwan, Israel's Channel Two TV reported late Friday.

It cited security sources as saying that such a move was likely to further inflame feelings in an already volatile spot.

On Monday Palestinians hurled petrol bombs at a Silwan apartment building hours after it was taken over by Jewish settlers.

Ariel, deputy leader of the far-right Jewish Home party currently lives in the West bank settlement of Kfar Adumim.

His talk of a move to Silwan was meant to test Prime Minister Benjamin's assertion that Jews have the right to live anywhere, the TV said.

It would also be a symbolic challenge to the US administration, which has expressed "deep concern" over settlement building in mainly Arab east Jerusalem, Channel Two added.

Israel seized Arab east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, in a move never recognised by the international community. Some 200,000 Israelis live there alongside about 300,000 Palestinians.

Israel regards the entire city as its "undivided capital" and does not see construction or the purchase of houses in the eastern sector as settlement activity.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.