Hamas leader hails unrest as new intifada

Ismail Haniyeh’s comments come as six Palestinians shot dead during week of violence

Israeli security forces stand behind burning tires during clashes with Palestinians in Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday. In the Israeli city of Dimona, a Jewish attacker stabbed two Palestinians and two Arab Israelis. Photograph: Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli security forces stand behind burning tires during clashes with Palestinians in Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday. In the Israeli city of Dimona, a Jewish attacker stabbed two Palestinians and two Arab Israelis. Photograph: Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images

 

Hamas’s leader in Gaza has declared the current unrest in Jerusalem and the West Bank an intifada, as six Palestinians were shot dead protesting at the border fence, further raising the stakes after a week of escalating violence.

The comments by Ismail Haniyeh contradicted recent remarks by Fatah’s leadership, including the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. There has been increasingly widespread use of the hashtag #intifada on Palestinian social media.

In a sermon for Friday prayers at a mosque in Gaza City, Mr Haniyeh said: “We are calling for the strengthening and increasing of the intifada. It is the only path that will lead to liberation. Gaza will fulfil its role in the Jerusalem intifada and it is more than ready for confrontation.”

Israeli troops fired across the border into Gaza, killing six and wounding 23 among a group throwing stones and taking part in a rally, hospital officials in Gaza said.

The rally had been called in support of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem and followed a spate of attacks by Palestinians against Israelis and reprisals by Jews against Arabs.

Throwing stones

In the Israeli city of Dimona, a Jewish attacker stabbed two Palestinians and two Arab Israelis and later told police: “All Arabs are terrorists.”

A Palestinian stabbed a policeman near the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, and was shot dead by the policeman. A 16-year-old Israeli was lightly wounded in a stabbing in Jerusalem and an 18-year-old Palestinian suspect was arrested.

A woman was shot after a stabbing attempt in the northern Israeli town of Afula. Video of the incident at a bus station showed the woman surrounded by police and security guards, apparently raising her hands before being shot multiple times.

The violence has been characterised by seemingly random and low-tech attacks with knives and screwdrivers. Israel has installed metal detectors at the gates of Jerusalem’s Old City and deployed extra security forces.

The tension has empowered hardliners on both sides. Supporters of Nechamia Lavie, the rabbi stabbed to death last week, have established a presence in the Old City’s Al-Wad Street, near the corner of the Via Dolorosa in the Muslim Quarter. There have also been visits by prominent politicians including Yitzhak Herzog, the Israeli Labour party leader.

Another camp protesting at Binyamin Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis has been established by supporters of the settlement movement outside his home in Jerusalem. It has been visited by rightwing members of Netanyahu’s own cabinet including the education minister, Naftali Bennett.

Palestinian anger is largely derived from events at al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City and fears that Israel is trying to change the status quo at the holy site.

– (Guardian service)