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2 Palestinians killed by Israel at largest West Bank protest march in decades

21:00 Jul 24 2014 March from Am'ari to Jerusalem stopped at Qalandiya checkpoint

2 Palestinians killed by Israel at largest West Bank protest march in decades
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Thousands of Palestinians marched from Ramallah to the Qalandia checkpoint in East Jerusalem, where they clashed with Israeli forces. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
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By +972 Blog
|Published July 25, 2014

Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem march against the war in Gaza, in the largest such protest in years. At least three were killed.

At least two Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded in clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem late Thursday night, as thousands of Palestinians marched from Ramallah to the Qalandia checkpoint, which separates Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The protest was the largest in the West Bank in years – according to some Palestinian activists, the largest in decades – and quickly spread to East Jerusalem, where police were said to be clashing with protesters in the Old City, Silwan, and other neighborhoods. Protests were also reported in Nablus and Bethlehem.

According to Haaretz reporter Amira Hass, Palestinian ambulances, blaring their horns, were streaming in the opposite direction of the march, evacuating protesters wounded by Israeli fire at the checkpoint.

The protest came during Laylat al-Qadr, the 27th night of Ramadan and the holiest night of the year for Muslims. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel Police Micky Rosenfeld said that hundreds of officers would be stationed around the Old City during Friday prayers, and that no Arabs under 50 would be permitted to enter Damascus Gate.

Earlier Thursday, Hamas political bureau head Khaled Meshaal said Hamas was prepared to sign a ceasefire agreement with Israel, as long as Israel’s siege of Gaza is lifted. In comments made from Qatar, Meshaal underlined that he also wants Gaza’s border with Egypt to be opened.

“We want an international airport, we want a seaport, we want an opening to the outside world, and not the situation where we are controlled by a few border crossings that turn Gaza into a huge prison, where no one can leave even for medical treatment or to work […] When we get a clearly worded drafting that guarantees these things, and the international community gives its backing to this draft – than the fire can be stopped, even today,” said Meshaal.

An Israel military spokesman said in a statement that the army was investigating the matter of the deadly strike on the UN-run school in Beit Hanoun. Israel maintains that Hamas militants fired at soldiers from the school, but Palestinians say the school was occupied by civilians fleeing the violence.

A Gaza spokesman for UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, said they had received no warning before Israeli forces shelled the Beit Hanoun school that was serving as a shelter. The attack killed at least 17 and injured more than 200 of the displaced civilians who had taken shelter there.

Related:
AP: UN shelter shelled; more than 140,000 displaced


via Twitter
Hana Khalil @hkhalil91

Thousands of Palestinians march from Ramallah to Jerusalem. Largest protest in decades. #48KMarch via @Ramideramallah
1:34 PM - 24 Jul 2014

Tahanie Aboushi @Its_T_time06
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The west bank now...people have had enough and have nothing to lose
3:40 PM - 24 Jul 2014
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RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces late Thursday as over 10,000 marched from a Ramallah-area refugee camp toward Jerusalem in protest against Israel's Gaza offensive, a Ma'an reporter at the scene said.

The slain Palestinians were identified as 19-year-old Mohammad al-Araj and 27-year-old Majd Sufyan, a Ma'an reporter at the scene said.

At least 108 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli fire during the march, at least 60 of them with live bullets.

Earlier, Palestinians marched from al-Amari refugee camp toward Qalandia checkpoint, a militarized crossing point between Ramallah and Jerusalem through Israel's separation wall.

Soldiers shot live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets into the crowd, in addition to tear gas.

Protesters set tires on fire and threw rocks and empty bottles at the checkpoint.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said thousands of Palestinians were "participating in a violent and illegal riot" in the area.

She said Palestinians were "hurling burning tires, Molotov cocktails, rocks, and fireworks" at Israeli soldiers and border police in the area.

The spokeswoman did not immediately confirm or deny reports that a Palestinian had been killed.

Doctors in the main Ramallah hospital said they had received dozens of live fire victims and appealed for blood donors.

The confrontation, and several smaller skirmishes throughout Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, came on Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Destiny, when Muslims pray through the night as the holy month of Ramadan nears its end.

Earlier, police had said that due to fears of violent protest over the deadly Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip, they would bar men under the age of 50 from Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque for what are usually packed prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan.

Large numbers of police deployed throughout the city on Thursday night and the police said in a statement that two officers were injured by stone throwers in the vicinity of the mosque.

Police said that 20 protesters were arrested in various violent disturbances in Palestinian areas of the city.

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces have been a near-nightly occurrence in the West Bank since the beginning of Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip on July 8.

The offensive has left at least 797 Palestinians dead and over 5,000 injured.

AFP contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this article reported that the name of the second Palestinian to die in the Qalandia clashes was Muhammad Arar. In fact, his name was Majd Sufyan.


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3 killed at protest, July 24, 2014
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