Christian pilgrims celebrated a subdued Christmas in Bethlehem under heavy guard, and one Palestinian was killed and 16 were reported wounded in clashes with troops elsewhere in the occupied lands.
The army said two people were wounded Sunday.In the hilltop town where Jesus was born, most shops were closed in solidarity with the yearlong Palestinian uprising and only a few colored lights hung from the municipality's Christmas tree. Police and soldiers inspected cars for weapons.
As pilgrims chanted mass in the Church of the Nativity off Manger Square, about 50 soldiers chased a group of stone-throwing youths outside. The protesters shouted "with blood and soul we will redeem the martyrs," Arab news reports said.
Despite the violence, tourists said they were glad they came to the West Bank town.
"We are excited to be here, to see the places we have read about from childhood through Sunday school and Bible studies," said Charles W. Fleming, director of the Shiloh Baptist Church Senior Choir of Washington, D.C. Seventy-six choir members joined the trip to Bethlehem.
In the occupied Gaza Strip, Christmas was marred by a series of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.
In Jabaliya, a shantytown refugee camp, 17-year-old Raed Rashid Idmaida was fatally shot in the head after Palestinian high school students attacked soldiers with rocks, Arab reports said.
The army said the confrontation occurred when a routine patrol was confronted by a hail of stones.
"After one soldier was attacked physically by several protesters and there was danger to his life, the soldier was forced to fire at one of them and he (the protester) was killed," said an army spokesman.
Five other Palestinian teenagers were wounded in the Jabaliya clash, and 11 others were wounded in other incidents in the occupied territories, according to media reports.