Arab protesters & IDF clash at West Bank funerals

Thousands gather for funeral of Palestinian prisoner Abu Hamdiyeh in Hebron, protesters hurl rocks at police & IDF soldiers.

Funerals for 2 Palestinian youths shot by live IDF fire were held in their home village near Tulkarm.





Dozens of Palestinians threw stones at IDF soldiers on Thursday during the funerals of three Palestinians in the West Bank, Army Radio reported. A policeman was lightly wounded in Ramallah, and a CNN cameraman was lightly wounded in Hebron, according to sources.

Body of Maysara Abu Hamdeya before his funeral in the West Bank city of Hebron, April 3, 2013.

Body of Maysara Abu Hamdeya before his funeral in the West Bank city of Hebron, April 3, 2013. – Photo: REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

Security forces responded with crowd-control methods, including tear gas, as the funeral for two Palestinian teens who were killed in clashes with the IDF near Tulkarm in the West Bank was held in their home village of Anabta on Thursday morning, where their bodies were carried through the streets.

Security forces were already on high alert for violence that was expected to break out in the West Bank on Thursday, particularly in Hebron where the funeral for Palestinian prisoner Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh, 63, was held.

Two separate autopsies by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority confirmed that Hamdiyeh had died of esophageal cancer in Soroka University Medical Center on Tuesday.

Hamdiyeh was jailed in 2002 and given a life sentence for his role in attempting to bomb the Caffit restaurant in Jerusalem’s German Colony. After his death, he was hailed as a martyr and a hero.

Violence immediately broke out in the West Bank Tuesday and continued Wednesday.

According to the IDF, a group of Palestinians attacked a guard station near Tulkarm in the West Bank village of Anabda late Wednesday night and threw Molotov cocktails at it. Soldiers responded with live fire killing two Palestinians. The IDF confirmed both deaths. Another Palestinian involved in the incident was arrested and a fourth was wounded.

The remains of seven Molotov cocktails were found at the scene.

 The soldiers targeted by the firebombing felt their lives to be at risk before using live fire, a senior defense source told The Jerusalem Post.

According to Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem, at least three Palestinian teenagers had gone to attack the guard towers, and were able to get fairly close to it, when the IDF shot at them.

Amer Nassar, 17, was immediately identified as one of the victims, and his photograph was quickly circulated on Twitter and Facebook, along with a video of mourners marching his body through the streets.

A second teen was wounded, but the third teen was initially missing, according to Michaeli. His body was found only hours later near the guard tower, Michaeli said.

She identified him as Naji Biblisi, 18. Both teens were from the village of Anabta and were friends. Palestinian activists circulated photographs on Twitter and Facebook of the two teens sitting together and smoking.

Earlier on Wednesday 200 Palestinians rioted in Hebron, where they threw stones and scores of Molotov cocktails at IDF forces near the police checkpoint, which is often the flashpoint for such violence.

An IDF officer was lightly wounded.

Stones were also thrown at security forces near the Palestinian village of Beit Omar and the settlements of Migdal Oz and Efrat.

In Nablus, Palestinians held a protest march that ended near the Hawara checkpoint, where they clashed with the IDF, which reported that stones were thrown at its soldiers.

Palestinians also declared a commercial strike, closing their shops in the cities of Hebron, Nablus and in east Jerusalem.

On Tuesday, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails declared a three-day hunger strike, in solidarity with Hamdiyeh.

Prisons Service spokesman Sivan Weitzman said Wednesday that a total of 4,620 security prisoners – nearly all of those held in Israel’s prisons – sent back all three of their meals on Wednesday, in a show of solidarity.

As usual in such cases, Weitzman said that the Prisons Service does not see it as a hunger strike, rather a “meal refusal,” adding that she thinks it will probably only last up to three days, as is usually the case with such protests.

She added that the Prisons Service had deployed extra officers to the security blocks, in case the situation gets violent, and has gone on a higher level of readiness, due to the possibility of worsening protests.

Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said Wednesday that he was worried by continued tensions over unresolved prisoner issues.

Separately, in the West Bank, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli vehicles, damaging two buses near Nablus and a car near the village of Halhoul.


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