Palestinian factions in West Bank declare ‘day of rage’
Calls for continuing protests after three killed
A relative of Palestinian man Mohammed al-Araj, whom medics said was killed by Israeli troops, mourns during his funeral at Qalandia refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman
Palestinian factions in the West Bank declared a “day of rage” yesterday after three demonstrators were killed in some of the worst clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the occupied territories in almost a decade.
Three Palestinians were killed in the West Bank in shootings involving both Israeli forces and a civilian who appeared to be a Jewish settler, according to witnesses. The clashes followed the killing of a Palestinian teenager on the outskirts of Jerusalem during a thousands- strong protest which was one of the largest since the end of the second intifada, or uprising, in 2005.
The boy, Muhammad al-Araj (17), died in clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint, which links Ramallah and Jerusalem. At the local mosque yesterday the imam railed against Israel, telling thousands of mourners who spilled into the surrounding streets: “Kill me, cut me into pieces, drown me in blood, you will never live in my land, you will never live in my sky!”
The violence was the first clear sign that, after two weeks of war in the Gaza strip, the ripple effects had reached the West Bank and threatened a wider escalation. The killings prompted Fatah and the other Palestinian factions to declare a “day of rage in support of bleeding, besieged Gaza” and call for continuing popular protests throughout the West Bank.
Hamas spokesmen in the Gaza Strip and outside it urged Palestinians to turn out en masse and launch a new intifada against Israel, calling it an opportunity “to set the territory on fire and come out against the occupation, in support of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip”.
In the Al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah, the starting point for Thursday night’s march, shopkeeper Hassan Abdullah said only an uprising could bring an end to the Israeli occupation. “If an intifada happens, it will be worse than Gaza,” he said.
Frustration with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas was at boiling point, Abdullah said, and there was frustration at the lack of economic opportunities and the restrictions imposed by the occupation.
“Some days I come here and I find [soldiers] right outside my shop,” he said. “I used to work in Nablus. I got this scar on the back of my head from settlers – they threw a stone at me while I was driving. They spat at me. I’ve had to change my car windows lots of times.”