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Acid attack on Israeli family

A Palestinian posing as a hitchhiker has thrown acid at an Israeli family in the West Bank before being shot by a passer-by and arrested, the Israeli military said.

The Israeli family - a Jewish man, his wife and four young girls - were sitting inside a car when the Palestinian man hurled acid at the woman and girls in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, south of Jerusalem, the military said.

The army said the Palestinian also tried to attack the father with a screwdriver and then started to run away, but a civilian passer-by shot him in the leg. Israeli police arrested the man and took him to hospital for treatment.

The Israeli family members suffered light injuries, police said.

Acid attacks are rare in Israel and the Palestinian territories. In 2001, a Palestinian girl seriously injured a young Israeli woman when she entered a Jerusalem shoe shop and threw acid at a saleswoman.

The latest attack came amid heightened tensions in the West Bank, the day after the funeral of Palestinian cabinet member Ziad Abu Ain, who collapsed after an apparent scuffle with Israeli troops.

Officials dispute the cause of death. A Palestinian pathologist said Mr Abu Ain died as a result of a blow to his body, not of natural causes, but an Israeli doctor said the 55-year-old's death was caused by the blockage of a coronary artery.

Earlier today, a Palestinian rammed his car into a bus stop where Israeli soldiers were waiting in the West Bank. The troops were not injured, the military said. The driver was lightly hurt and taken for questioning, and several hours later the military issued a statement saying they concluded the incident was an accident.

Palestinians have used vehicles as weapons to carry out attacks in several instances in recent months, resulting in deaths and injuries.

Israeli officials say the attacks stem from incitement by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders.

Also today, there were scattered, small clashes between Palestinian demonstrators - some supporting the Islamic militant Hamas group, others rallying against Jewish settlements - and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.

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