BIRZEIT: Several thousand mourners attended the funerals on Friday of two Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces in the West Bank, as further clashes took place between protesters and soldiers.
“We will sacrifice ourselves for you, o martyrs,” mourners chanted as the bodies, draped in Palestinian flags, were taken through the streets of the West Bank town of Birzeit. Israeli border police shot dead Musaab Nuwarah, 20, and Mohammed Udeh, 17, on Thursday during a demonstration in the West Bank marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe” of the Jewish state’s creation. Security and medical sources told AFP that they died in a Ramallah hospital after being shot in the chest during a protest near Ofer jail to demand the release of thousands of Palestinians held by Israel.
Troops and protesters clashed outside Ofer again on Friday, leaving at least four Palestinians injured, an AFP correspondent said. “Some 50 protesters set fire to car tyres and threw stones at Israeli security forces, who responded using riot dispersal means,” an army spokeswoman said. Two Israeli journalists narrowly avoided a “lynching” nearby, the army said in a statement. “Two Israeli journalists barely escaped lynch during a violent riot in Beitunia (southwest of Ramallah). Palestinian security transferred the reporters to the civil (Israeli) adminstration,” the army said in an English-language statement.
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday threatened to cease its security cooperation with Israel in the Palestinian territories over the killings. “The Palestinian leadership cannot stand by, hands tied in the face of what’s happening... and is seriously looking at halting security cooperation with the Israeli side,” Palestinian security spokesman Adnan al-Damiri told AFP. The violence came just weeks after a collapse of US-led peace talks.
Israeli forces have killed 11 Palestinians in the West Bank since the beginning of the year, according to UN figures. Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has denounced the Israeli army’s “excessive” use of force. “The Israeli army and border police used excessive, including lethal, force in response to rock-throwing protesters who could not have posed a threat to the lives of the soldiers and policemen in or near the fortified military camp,” Amnesty said in a statement on Thursday.
“Israeli forces have repeatedly resorted to extreme violence to respond to Palestinian protests against Israel’s occupation, discriminatory policies, confiscation of land and construction of unlawful settlements” Philip Luther, director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme said. Meanwhile in Jerusalem, six Palestinians were arrested on Friday after clashing with security forces near the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the east of the Old City, a police spokeswoman told AFP.
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