Palestinians resume protests after 3-week pause, 14 injured - GulfToday

Palestinians resume protests after 3-week pause, 14 injured


Palestinians evacuate a wounded woman during clashes with Israeli troops along the Gaza border on Friday. Agence France-Presse

Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated along the Gaza-Israel frontier on Friday as the territory’s Hamas rulers resumed the regular protests after a three-week pause.

The renewed weekly protests came as leaders from Hamas and Islamic Jihad were in Cairo, talking with Egyptian mediators about cementing a cease-fire with Israel that is expected to ease Gaza’s 12-year-old blockade.

Organisers of the marches kept them restrained on Friday, with no burning tires or firebombs, and with only a few protesters approaching the fortified perimeter fence and hurling stones at Israeli troops with slingshots.

The health ministry said 14 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire, four of them with live gunshots.

Hamas had put the weekly marches on hold since mid-November following a short round of cross-border fighting with Israel.

The fighting, the worst in months, was sparked by an Israeli targeted killing of a senior Islamic Jihad commander.

Over the past decade, Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and dozens of shorter skirmishes.

Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman, said his movement is determined to break the blockade and that the talks in Cairo, which also include bilateral discussions with the Islamic Jihad, were for this purpose.

“We won’t allow this situation to last and we will continue the protests until the siege is broken,” he said in a statement.

Unconfirmed reports say Egypt has proposed a five-year truce that will see economic incentives to Gaza to sustain calm.

In the West Bank, meanwhile, Israeli forces shot a 22-year-old Palestinian near the city of Hebron.

The health ministry said the man was in serious condition after a live bullet hit him in the chest.

Separately, Israel detained four Palestinian journalists in occupied Jerusalem on Friday for several hours over “illegal activity” connected with the Palestinian Authority, a police spokesman said.

According to the Palestinian ministry of information, the four are Christine Rinawi, Dana Abu Shamsiyeh, Ameer Abed Rabbo and Ali Yassin, who work in the city for Palestinian Authority-funded Palestine TV. Last month, Israel shut down the occupied Jerusalem office of Palestine TV, with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan accusing it of producing anti-Israel content.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Friday that “the journalists were detained in connection with illegal activity by the Palestinian Authority in (occupied) Jerusalem,” without providing further details.

The journalists were released from a central Jerusalem police station Friday afternoon, a photographer said.

Abed Rabbo said the release of the four was on condition they do not work for Palestine TV for the next six months or communicate with one another for the next 15 days, on pain of fines.

Saeb Erakat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation said the detentions were “an attack against freedom of speech” and the “Palestinian presence in Jerusalem.”

The detentions were “part of a larger campaign against any voices showing the reality of Israel’s occupation,” he contended.

Palestinian officials also expressed “great concern” late Thursday over a report by the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor that includes a warning that Palestinian stipends to attackers and their families could constitute a war crime.

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Malki said the prosecutor’s office’s report was “based on misleading narratives of a political nature, rather than an objective and accurate description of the relevant facts.”

Thursday’s report, released in the Hague, highlighted possible crimes by both Israel and the Palestinians that are under investigation, including Israel’s use of sometimes deadly force against protesters along the Israel-Gaza border fence, and Palestinian militant rocket fire and use of human shields in Gaza.

At the Palestinians’ request, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary investigation in 2015 into alleged violations of international law following the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.


Related articles