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Palestinians clash with Israeli forces over housing plan

JERUSALEM - Hundreds of Palestinians in east Jerusalem set tires and garbage bins ablaze yesterday and hurled rocks at Israeli riot police, who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas. The heaviest clashes in months broke out as an American envoy abruptly canceled a visit, deepening a U.S.-Israeli diplomatic feud.

The violence spread across the eastern side of the volatile city. Angered by plans for more Jewish housing in predominantly Arab east Jerusalem and unsubstantiated rumors surrounding the rededication of an Old City synagogue, Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces throughout the day.

Thousands of police, including anti-riot units armed with assault rifles, stun grenades and batons, were deployed across east Jerusalem in anticipation of the unrest.

Palestinian medics said 10 people were seriously wounded, five from rubber bullets. Israeli police said 15 security men suffered light wounds, including one man wounded by gunfire. About 60 protesters were arrested.

Palestinian merchants in east Jerusalem shuttered their stores in solidarity with the protests, and Palestinian schools in the city were closed. Small clashes also took place in several West Bank towns.

Washington notified Israel that its special Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, had indefinitely put off his trip to the region.

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