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Kerry: Netanyahu agreed to 12-hour pause in fighting

Intensive efforts underway to bring about cease-fire ● IDF confirms death of Sgt. previously declared missing ● Palestinian officials file complaint against Israel to International Criminal Court ● Six Palestinians killed in West Bank.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.607184

By Haaretz

Israel’s Operation Protective Edge entered its 18th day on Friday, marking the 8th day of the IDF’s ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.

Two Palestinians were killed near the Qalandiyah checkpoint in the West Bank and over 200 were wounded, many of them by live IDF fire, when some 10,000 protesters marched from Ramallah toward Jerusalem late on Thursday night. Israeli authorities say live fire was fired at IDF troops from with the crowd. Four Palestinians have been killed during Friday demonstrations.

In Gaza, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge surpassed the 800 mark, most of them since Israel entered Gaza a week ago.

Sgt. Oron Shaul, previously declared missing, was officially declared “killed in action” by the IDF. Israel military fatalities stand at 35 since the operation commenced. 134 soldiers are currently hospitalized due to wounds incurred in the fighting, and one soldier is missing.

Israel asserted Thursday that the hospital it struck the day before was empty of patients and being used for missile attacks, while Palestinians asserted that 15 people were killed when a UNRWA school was hit by artillery fire on Thursday.

For Thursday’s live updates, click here

11:45 P.M. Two rockets explode in open fields in the Eshkol Regional Council.

11:29 P.M. The U.S. Embassy in Israel issued a notice saying that official U.S. personnel and their families are restricted from traveling to Bethlehem after 9:30 p.m. and from staying there overnight until further notice. The notice went on to caution that Americans should stay clear of Jerusalem’s Old City overnight and all day Fridays.

10:48 P.M. More than 80 rockerts were launched at Israel over the past 24 hours, according to the IDF Spokesperson. 61 of the rockets hit Israel and 16 were intercepted.

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, approximately 2,430 rockets have been launched at Israel, and at least 1,500 targets “associated with rocket-launching capabilities” have been targeted. (Gili Cohen)

10:44 P.M. France will host an international meeting on Saturday in order to reach a cease-fire agreement “as quickly as possible,” according to a French diplomatic source.

Representatives from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy, the EU, Turkey and Qatar will reportedly attend talks in Paris aimed at converging “all efforts” for reaching a cease-fire. (Reuters)

10:40 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon are still discussing Ban Ki-moon and John Kerry’s request for a 12-hour pause in Gaza fighting, according to an Israeli official. (Barak Ravid)

10:35 P.M. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon tells soldiers to “be prepared for the possibility that IDF will be ordered to expand Gaza ground operation very soon.” (Barak Ravid)

10:28 P.M. Hamas gunmen attempt to kidnap IDF soldier by dragging him into a tunnel. An IDF tank fired shells at the site of the attempted abduction, enabling the soldier to break free. (Gili Cohen)

10:01 P.M. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a “down payment” of a 12-hour pause in Gaza.

Kerry said all parties are “working towards a brief, seven-day humanitarian cease-fire to try to create a more durable, sustainable cease-fire,” but the parties “still have some terminology in the context of the framework to work through.”

Kerry added that the Israeli cabinet “may have rejected some language on a potential truce,” yet Israel never formally rejected the proposal since it was never officially offered. (Barak Ravid)

9:45 P.M. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry: More efforts needed to get all parties to agree to a cease-fire proposal. (Barak Ravid)

9:40 P.M. Eid Fidila’at, 32, was killed at the Al-Arroub refugee camp in the West Bank, north of Hebron.

The IDF reported that Fidila’at attempted to grab a soldier’s gun, who opened fire in response.

Fidila’at’s death brings the West Bank death toll over the past 24 hours to seven. (Gili Cohen and Jack Khoury)

8:51 P.M. Air France says it will resume flights to Tel Aviv later Friday, the latest major airline to lift a ban on flights to Israel imposed earlier in the week over security concerns. (Reuters)

8:39 P.M. IDF Spokesman says soldier killed in Gaza Friday is Staff Sgt. Guy Levy, 21, from Kfar Vradim. Levy was killed by mortar fire from a structure near an UNRWA school in the central Gaza Strip, according to the IDF Spokesperson.

8:37 P.M. Rocket barrage targets south and central Israel.

8:34 P.M. Israeli cabinet rejects John Kerry’s cease-fire proposal, according to a senior Israeli official. Discussions continue on how to improve the proposal in Israel’s favor. (Barak Ravid)

8:24 P.M. IDF artillery shell hits hospital in Beit Hanoun, according to eyewitness Palestinian reports. Hospital personnel, civilians and volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement are trapped inside. Earlier Friday, an IDF shell hit a private ambulance on its way to pick up wounded. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, one medic was killed and another was seriously wounded.

Overnight, the IDF struck al-Dora Hospital in Gaza. a one-year-old baby hospitalized in the intensive care unit was killed and 30 other patients were wounded. At least 52 Palestinian civilians were killed by IDF fire in the Gaza Strip between Thursday night and Friday evening. (Amira Hass)

8:01 P.M. Head of IDF Southern Command Sami Turgeman said the IDF will take advantage of all the time it has to deal with the Gaza tunnels, commenting on a potential cease-fire.

Torjamin told reporters that the IDF has so far targeted “hundreds of terrorists” and taken dozens captive.

Tayib Oudeh, 22, succombed to gunshot wounds. (Chaim Levinson and Jack Khoury)

3:57 P.M. One Palestinian was killed and three were wounded Friday afternoon during a demonstration at Huwara, near Nablus.

Khaled Odeh, 18, of Huwara, was shot in the chest. Circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated after a settler tesitified she fired into the air, fearing her life was in danger. She was taken in for questioning.

The incident occured at 2:30 P.M., after a protest against Israel’s operation in Gaza came out of a local mosque.

Soldiers used riot control measures to prevent the closure of a main road, which connects the settlements of Yitzhar, Itamar, Elon Moreh and Har Bracha.

Meanwhile, a resident of a nearby settlement allegedly ran into the scene and fired into the air. (Jack Khoury)

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 Al Jazeera  Friday, July 25, 2014

Israel: This is what national resistance looks like 

Rachel Shabi

Israel’s conflation of Hamas, the Islamic State and Boko Haram aims to denigrate Palestinian nationalism.

Rachel Shabi is a journalist and author of Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands.

Hamas rejects a ceasefire with Israel unless the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted [AFP]

If you’re going to pursue an outlandish narrative, you might as well go all the way with it. This must be the operational assumption among Israeli leaders who, in trying to justify a grotesque attack on Gaza that has resulted in, at latest count, more than 800 Palestinian deaths – the majority of those innocent civilians – are now asserting that Hamas is like the Islamic State group (formerly known as ISIS) and al-Qaeda.

Speaking at a joint press conference with UN chief Ban Ki-moon on July 22, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Hamas represents another type of “Islamist extremism, violent extremism that has no resolvable grievance” adding: “Hamas is like ISIS, Hamas is like al-Qaeda, Hamas is like Hezbollah, Hamas is like Boko Haram.”

Later the same day, Israel’s ambassador, David Yitshak Roet, reiterated the point at the UN Security Council’s open meeting, as he talked of a global struggle between nations like Israel and the “radical Islamic terrorism” of groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah – and Hamas.

Such statements, seemingly intended for international consumption, are not the first instances of Israeli officials hitching a ride on the war on terror bandwagon. In the years after 9/11, Israeli leaders tried to tether Palestinians living under Israeli occupation to a global terror network. This dovetailed with the Israeli line of being an enlightened nation stranded in an uncivilised neighbourhood, best surmised by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s appraisal of Israel as a “villa in the jungle”.

Still, these new assertions factoring in freshly minted regional groups represent an added twist.

Gaza’s nightmarish reality

Apart from anything else, comparing Hamas to the group that insists on calling itself Islamic State seems a bit insulting to the Syrians and Iraqis suffering the spread of this violent cross-border group that claims to have set up a caliphate.

Unlike Hamas, Islamic State wasn’t democratically elected. And, unlike Hamas, it isn’t viewed as an indigenous resistance group so much as an imposed source of deadly terror. Trying to equate Hamas with Islamic State is like trying to climb into another nation’s nightmarish reality. And, unlike land, fear can’t really be appropriated.

Meanwhile, as Alon Liel, former director of Israel’s foreign affairs ministry, points out, this binding together of causes isn’t a particularly helpful line for Israel to take. “It is a mistake for us to describe the situation as if we are fighting in Gaza the international movement of Islamic radicalism,” he said, during a phone conversation. “We turn it into a religious war or a cultural war – and we carry on our shoulders something far beyond Israel’s responsibility, or ability.”

But, as Liel suggests, there is an obvious reason why Israel’s current government would pursue this contortion: “Netanyahu prefers not to describe the Hamas militants as Palestinian nationalists,” he says. “He prefers to describe them as not belonging to this region, as not tied to the land in Gaza but tied to a world movement of radical and fundamentalist Islam.”

So there’s the obvious source of all those awkward semantic twists: the inability to countenance the idea of Palestinian nationalism. You might not like Hamas; you may have criticisms – indeed, Palestinians living in Gaza have plenty, ranging from the group’s imposition of religious edicts to corruption and failure to tackle crime in the strip. But in the midst of a horrifyingly destructive Israeli assault on Gaza, Palestinians back Hamas – even if they didn’t before the assault – because that’s what support for a national resistance movement looks like.

Netanyahu, who surreally accused Hamas of “piling up” civilian dead, as though Palestinians somehow choose to be killed by brutally disproportionate Israeli force, knows about resistance. He must know that newly conscripted Israeli soldiers are often bussed to Masada, the desert mountain fortress where ancient Jews carried out mass suicide to avoid subjugation by the Romans, to pledge that the fortress must never fall again.

He knows, just as Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf outlined recently, that the impulse to resist is hardly unique to Palestinians. “Nations will make inconceivable sacrifices in these kinds of struggles,” wrote Sheizaf, adding that the Jewish population fighting the 1948 war that dispossessed Palestinians and created Israel saw loss of life as an inevitable part of the struggle.

Gabe Mate, a Holocaust survivor now living in Canada, pointed out that, in different circumstances and in the face of its own annihilation, the Jewish resistance of the Warsaw ghetto used tunnels, like Hamas, to coordinate attacks against their assailants.

‘Return to a living death’

Even a former Israeli security chief, Yuval Diskin, urged the nation to understand “the growing tension and enormous frustration of the Palestinians in the West Bank who feel that their land is being stolen from them, who gather that the state they yearn for is slipping away from them”.

Those words were written before Israel launched its military assault on Gaza, the third in six years; before entire families were killed and thousands injured and more than 100,000 displaced. But they speak to the logical consequences of inflicting suffering: People fight against it, if they can.

INTERACTIVE: Gaza Under Attack

How bad must blockaded Gaza be, if Palestinians support Hamas’ insistence on lifting of the siege as a condition of ceasefire – even if that insistence may prolong Israel’s deadly pummelling of the tiny, sealed strip? Days ago, a long list of Palestinian doctors, academics and public figures issued a letter explaining that a ceasefire without conditions, a return to the status quo of the seven-year blockade on the free movement of people and materials would be a “return to a living death”.

Palestinians beyond the strip clearly back this, too – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stands with Hamas in its demand for an end to the siege, along with other ceasefire conditions. And, since such a blockade amounts to collective punishment, international and human rights groups have been calling for the same thing, for some time.

Words matter more in starkly asymmetric wars. While we’re defining terms, let’s not get thrown by curious assertions coming from Netanyahu and other Israeli officials; wanting to lift a suffocating siege is definitely not the same thing as wanting to create an ISIS-inspired regional caliphate. And when Palestinians demand an end to a 47-year-long occupation – a demand seconded by the international community for just as long – this cannot sensibly be defined as an “unresolvable grievance”.

Rachel Shabi is a journalist and author of Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands.

Follow her on Twitter: @rachshabi

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

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Al Jazeera  Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On stupidity and war

Israel is a fast learner, but did it learn the most valuable lesson of all?

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/07/stupidity-war-2014723141941986238.html

Marwan Bishara

Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.

So far 29 Israeli soldiers have died in the offensive on Gaza [EPA]

The war hasn’t ended and already the criticism over Israel’s military adventure in Gaza is mounting as the Islamist movement, Hamas, continues to surprise the “invaders”.

Leading and, presumably, respected media commentators have blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his hastiness, Israel’s Security Service – the Shabak – for its ignorance and the military for its poor performance.

Israel might claim technological superiority and tactical victory, but, as one expert concluded, strategically, it’s been defeated.

Needless to say, there are many ways by which one takes stock of the ongoing war. But after three military adventures in six years, Hamas remains a formidable force in Palestine. And Israel has little to show for its military prowess and technological edge aside from the terrible devastation wrought across the Gaza Strip – home to 1.8 million Palestinians living impoverished lives in the world’s longest-standing refugee camp.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has boasted of Israel’s moral standing and condemned Hamas for targeting civilians. But in the last few days, it’s the Israeli military that has suffered hundreds of casualties, including 29 soldiers killed, thus far. While on the Palestinian side, Israel’s bombings led to thousands of civilian casualties. It takes chutzpah to take pride in such a dreadful record.

At any rate, if it doesn’t cool down its aggression on the population of Gaza, Israel might increasingly face another uprising in the West Bank as the Palestinians open another front against their occupiers. And if the early indicators are anything to go by, it shows signs of turning violent and bloody.

Israel, a fast learner

It’s smart to learn from one’s own mistakes; wise to learn from others’ mistakes. What lessons has Netanyahu learnt, if any?

There is no doubt that Israel is a quick learner. It learned much from its own operational and even strategic mistakes in past wars, and no less, from the war experiences of other nations.

The last century witnessed countless wars, including civil wars, proxy wars, wars driven by nationalism, racism and greed, and two destructive world wars.

Israel has had its share of these wars – 14 in six decades – and the Middle East region that makes up some five percent of the world population, accounts for 20 percent of its conflicts; a percentage that probably skyrocketed in recent years.

Their motivations varied, but self-defence has generally been the excuse for aggression. Underlining its lack of strategic depth, Israel has long boasted of its pre-emptive doctrine to hit first when needing to defend itself.

Israel has also relied on the United States for lessons of war. And in recent times, it taught its patron a few lessons it’s learned itself in Lebanon and Palestine, for fighting in Iraq – a reason why the Israelis were stunned this week to hear former Secretary of State Madeline Albright speak of Israel’s “disproportionate” military response in Gaza, when she justified the US blockade on Iraq even when it led to the death of half a million children.

Israel is hardly the first to invoke self-defence to justify aggression – Lebanon being the best example – or protecting civilians to kill civilians. It has learnt the art of victimhood like no other. Its ultimate chutzpah goes along the lines of: “We won’t forgive you for forcing us to kill you.”

So yes, Israel has learned many lessons, and has institutionalised these lessons and is making money out of these lessons through training other nations’ military and security forces. Indeed, Israel arms sales have rocketed to $7.5bn in 2012, arms that are war-tested, as Israel so frequently vaunts.

But the more important question is: Has Israel learnt the most important lesson of all about its type of colonial asymmetrical wars?

The predictable war

Unlike conventional wars, the longest and most legitimate wars of all have been the people’s fight for independence from colonialism.

Israel is in the midst of such a fight against a people’s struggle for freedom and independence and it makes similar, if not identical claims, to those made by other colonial powers of the past.

But not one foreign power big or small was able to win a single asymmetrical war against a people resisting colonialism throughout the entire 20th century.

This definite and paradoxical conclusion – the most instructive, and yet ignored of all lessons of war is categorical: Not one great power possessing superior firepower has won against a weaker, less organised and less professional resistance against occupation.

Not the French, not the English, not the Belgians, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Italians, the Soviets, the Chinese, the Afrikaners, etc. Not one!  In the end, they all lose. And if they don’t, then it’s not the end.

In each and every case, the indigenous population was designated terrorist, or fanatic, extremist, destructive, insensitive, or all of the above when they stood up to their occupier. Similar if not identical to the stuff we hear from Israelis nowadays.

Yet, despite all their military domination, political mechanisation, and superior moral pretentions, they eventually lose the battle of wills and are compelled to leave – defeated or humiliated.

While there are exceptions, such as in the case of India, the cost is generally high in death and destruction especially for those at the receiving end of aggression. But don’t depend on those who can keep a record to do so for their victims.

During the Algerian war for independence that lasted a decade, almost 30,000 Frenchmen, and we are told half a million to a million Algerians, were killed – give or take a couple of hundred thousand deaths.

Like today’s Israel, those colonial powers also justified their wars as last resort, and explained the high casualties as “War sucks”, “We’ve got to do whatever we need to protect ourselves”, or “The terrorists are hiding among the population”, and “using them as human shields” etc.

And so the fog of war and propaganda continues to blur the lines between right and wrong, occupied from occupier, defence and aggression. But when the dust settles, Israel will find itself where it was before its latest and past adventures, but with weaker deterrence, less credibility and hardened enemies.

Yes, it could continue to justify its military adventures under the pretext of combating terrorists, destroying rocket-launchers and tunnels. But whatever its justifications, these are the by-products of its own colonialism and war.

In the final analysis, if Israel doesn’t start packing and leaving the occupied territories sooner, many Israelis will start leaving it later because conditions are bound to get much worse.

Late is better than never learning the primary lesson from this conflict: It’s the occupation, stupid.

Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

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Al Jazeera Friday, July 25, 2014

West Bank Palestinians die in fresh clashes

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/07/palestinians-killed-new-west-bank-violence-201472512545457662.html

Four killed near Hebron and Nablus on Friday as worst spate of West Bank protests in years continues for second day.

Israeli policemen arrest a Palestinian during clashes following Friday

prayers in East Jerusalem

Four Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank, a day after mass protests over Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip which has killed more than 800 people.

In the first shooting on Friday in Hawara, near Nablus, an Israeli settler shot dead an 18-year-old and injured three other Palestinians, sources told Al Jazeera. Two hours later at the same protest Israeli soldiers open fire, killing a 22-year-old.

Two other Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli solders during a protest in Beit Ummar, near Hebron. One of those killed reportely worked for the Defence for Children International charity.

An Israeli army spokeswoman had no comment on the incident in Beit Ummar, but said there had been “confrontations” between Israeli troops and Palestinians near Nablus “in which settlers were involved”.

Israeli army radio reported that a woman settler opened fire in in the incident near Nablus.

Protests were also reported in East Jerusalem after Friday prayer.

“We are with the resistance [in Gaza], and this is our way of resisting,” said Samir Natsheh, one of the worshippers praying on the street near Al-Aqsa mosque.

“The same Israeli government that is carrying out this aggression in Gaza is taking away our right to pray.”

There were brief scuffles in Wadi al-Joz, an area north of the Old City.

The protests on Friday came a day after two Palestinians were killed in mass protests in the occupied West Bank. The funeral for one, Mohammad al-Araj, 17, was held in Qalandia refugee camp.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation on Friday called for Palestinians to take to the streets to express their rage at the invasion of Gaza, calling it a “genocide”, and to offer a funeral prayer to those who had been killed on Thursday.

Palestinian activists and Israel media said the Thursday protests appeared to be the largest since the end of a 2000-2005 Palestinian uprising.

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Haaaretz Thursday, July 24, 2014

Backs to the wall, Palestinian leadership comes out fighting

The Palestinian Authority is fed up with the international community’s empty promises to implement its national aspirations, and realized that the Palestinians have no one to rely on but themselves.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.607035

By Jack Khoury

A veteran member of the Fatah movement reminisced this week about a fateful meeting held by the organization’s leadership in Beirut at the start of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Fatah chairman Yasser Arafat had to choose between caving in and leaving, or fighting the “strongest army in the Middle East.” A stormy debate took place between those who wished to stop fighting and conserve their arms for future campaigns, and those who wanted to continue the armed struggle to the end.

Arafat, as was his wont, refused to be hurried. After hours of discussions, he withdrew to his room and prayed. He then opened the Koran and a phrase calling for waging war against infidels jumped out at him. “We’re fighting,” he said, upon returning to the meeting.

Thirty-two years have passed since then and the Palestine Liberation Organization – which ended up leaving Beirut for Tunis – is now permanently located in Ramallah. The Palestinian state that was only a distant dream then has become a realistic goal, at least as far as most countries are concerned. The leadership, which in those days was constantly hounded and hiding from shelling, is now living in spacious villas in Ramallah, travelling in lavish official vehicles.

The pictures of piles of bodies lying among the rubble in the streets of Shujaiyeh shocked many people around the world last week. However, Fatah veterans were reminded of Beirut in the 1980s, and of those critical discussions in the Lebanese capital.

The leadership today is different, but it, too, stands at a critical juncture, needing to reach a decision. Senior members wonder where the Palestinian people are headed, and who can be relied on.

A cease-fire is not yet on the horizon and the Gaza Strip has become an ugly battlefield – not only between armed Palestinian factions and the Israel Defense Forces, but also between states fighting over interests that do not necessarily coincide with those of the Palestinians.

A speech delivered by President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, and a subsequent statement issued by the Palestinian leadership, led to one conclusion: The Palestinian Authority is fed up with the international community’s empty promises to implement Palestinian national aspirations. Furthermore, the Palestinian people have no one to rely on but themselves.

The current Palestinian leadership has concluded that it must now choose between a continued reliance on world leaders who excel in declarations but not in deeds, or its local base, the “street,” which often serves as a guide on the way to achieving a state.

It seems the die has been cast, with the choice falling on the “street.” Whereas earlier the Palestinian leadership tended to adopt the Egyptian initiative that called for an immediate cease-fire to be followed by negotiations over the terms for maintaining a truce, Ramallah has now accepted the position of the factions in Gaza, headed by Hamas, according to which there will be no cease-fire until the terms of the truce are determined.

Veteran Fatah member Saeb Erekat was emphatic Wednesday when he said it would not be possible to separate quiet on the security front from a calm economic front, implying a lifting of the siege and an opening of the border crossings. Erekat said this was a demand not only of Hamas but the entire Palestinian people, and that the international community must safeguard the implementation of such an outcome.

Abbas, who up to last month talked of the hallowed security coordination with Israel, sounded very forceful when he declared that no one in the world would enjoy peace unless Palestinian children did so as well.

These words may not have been well received in Israel, but their message is clear. As in Beirut long ago, the Palestinians are now standing with their backs to the wall, without many options. The world must decide whether it wants to leave behind its complacency and indifference, and lead a process that will end this conflict once and for all.

The other option is that the pragmatic Palestinian leadership will abandon the diplomatic process and leave the Israeli government, along with the international community, mired in besieged Gaza. In addition, Israel will have to figure out how to manage the lives of three and a half million people in the West Bank and Gaza.

Al Jazeera Friday, July 25, 2014

West Bank Palestinians die in fresh clashes

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/07/palestinians-killed-new-west-bank-violence-201472512545457662.html

Four killed near Hebron and Nablus on Friday as worst spate of West Bank protests in years continues for second day.

Israeli policemen arrest a Palestinian during clashes following Friday

prayers in East Jerusalem

Four Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank, a day after mass protests over Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip which has killed more than 800 people.

In the first shooting on Friday in Hawara, near Nablus, an Israeli settler shot dead an 18-year-old and injured three other Palestinians, sources told Al Jazeera. Two hours later at the same protest Israeli soldiers open fire, killing a 22-year-old.

Two other Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli solders during a protest in Beit Ummar, near Hebron. One of those killed reportely worked for the Defence for Children International charity.

An Israeli army spokeswoman had no comment on the incident in Beit Ummar, but said there had been “confrontations” between Israeli troops and Palestinians near Nablus “in which settlers were involved”.

Israeli army radio reported that a woman settler opened fire in in the incident near Nablus.

Protests were also reported in East Jerusalem after Friday prayer.

“We are with the resistance [in Gaza], and this is our way of resisting,” said Samir Natsheh, one of the worshippers praying on the street near Al-Aqsa mosque.

“The same Israeli government that is carrying out this aggression in Gaza is taking away our right to pray.”

There were brief scuffles in Wadi al-Joz, an area north of the Old City.

The protests on Friday came a day after two Palestinians were killed in mass protests in the occupied West Bank. The funeral for one, Mohammad al-Araj, 17, was held in Qalandia refugee camp.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation on Friday called for Palestinians to take to the streets to express their rage at the invasion of Gaza, calling it a “genocide”, and to offer a funeral prayer to those who had been killed on Thursday.

Palestinian activists and Israel media said the Thursday protests appeared to be the largest since the end of a 2000-2005 Palestinian uprising.

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