Two rival clans exchanged fire with Palestinian police in a dispute over land in the area of a former Israeli settlement, killing a 17-year-old civilian and wounding five people, Palestinian officials said Saturday.
The firefight Friday night was the first violent clash over former settlement-area land since Israel left the Gaza Strip in September. After the fatal shooting, dozens of people, including gunmen, vandalized a police station in the nearby town of Khan Younis and set two police cruisers on fire, said the governor of the area, Hosni Zourab.
The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has said former settlement land would be used for the public good, meaning housing projects, universities and nature reserves. Plots expropriated by Israel for the settlements will not automatically be returned to their original owners, officials have said.
Palestinian security sources said Saturday that the half-acre plot of land was in the public domain and located in the area of the dismantled settlement of Neve Dekalim. It was not immediately clear whether the land formerly was part of Neve Dekalim, or nearby, they said.
Two clans staked competing claims to the land, Palestinian officials said. One of the clans, the Astals, had fenced off the area. When police came to tear down the fence, a firefight erupted. Seventeen-year-old Naef Astal was killed and five people were wounded, including two policemen.