Tension high in West Bank as funerals held

Tension high in West Bank as funerals held

Tension high in West Bank as funerals held

Members of the Palestinian security forces guard during the funeral of Abu Hamdeya in Hebron. The unrest has heightened tensions between Israel and the Palestinians after days of West Bank clashes and rocket fire into southern Israel, prompting the first Israeli airstrike in Gaza since a November cease-fire. REUTERS photo

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets yesterday in the West Bank in a show of outrage over the deaths of two Palestinian protesters killed in clashes with Israel and a third Palestinian who died of cancer in an Israeli prison.

The unrest has heightened tensions between Israel and the Palestinians after days of West Bank clashes and rocket fire into southern Israel, prompting the first Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip since a cease-fire was reached last November. Israel has vowed to respond harshly to further attacks
from Gaza.

In the West Bank city of Hebron, thousands of people turned out for the funeral of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, a 64-year-old prisoner who died earlier this week from throat cancer while in Israeli custody. The Palestinians have blamed Israel for Abu Hamdiyeh’s death, saying he did not receive proper medical care. He had been serving a life sentence for his involvement in an attempted bombing of a busy Jerusalem cafe in 2002.

Abu Hamidiyeh’s body, wrapped in a Palestinian flag, was paraded on a stretcher in a military funeral to a Hebron mosque, where prayers were held. Thousands of people waited outside the mosque to take the body for burial.

The Israeli military reported clashes with Palestinian protesters elsewhere in Hebron, Bethlehem, and on a main road in the northern West Bank. The military said it fired tear gas to disperse the crowds, and no major injuries were reported.

Clashes jeopardize US peace efforts: Abbas

In Tulkarem, also in the northern West Bank, hundreds of people participated in the funeral of two Palestinians who were shot dead by Israeli troops late April 3 during clashes near a military checkpoint. The Israeli military said troops opened fire after firebombs were thrown at them.

Speaking to top officials of the ruling Fatah party, President Mahmoud Abbas said the Israeli army’s killing of two Palestinian youths in West Bank clashes jeopardizes U.S. efforts to rekindle peace talks.

“The Israeli government is behind this escalation,” Abbas said in a statement. “The Israeli government is responsible for the (negative) impact on U.S. and international efforts to restart negotiations.” Abbas’s remarks came ahead of a visit next week by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who aims to revive stalled Middle East peace efforts and hold fortnightly meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

In a separate speech to his Fatah movement, Abbas also slammed Israel after clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians in the West Bank. “Israel has full responsibility for the escalation in the Palestinian territories and is trying to ignite chaos,” he charged.

“Israel is trying to muddy the waters and sow chaos because there’s no way peaceful demonstrations should lead to two deaths,” he added.

'No trial for raid victims'

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

The prosecution of a Mavi Marmara victim is not possible if he seeks to donate compensation
funds from Israel to Hamas or Islamic Jihad, a lawyer said yesterday.

One of the victims of the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla has announced that he will donate the compensation to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. “Prosecution of this citizen in the case of such a donation is out of question, no matter whether the donation is delivered as a cash payment or through a bank account. The law adopted by the Turkish Parliament is related to a definition  within U.N. resolutions. Hamas is not considered a terrorist organization by the U.N. within the  framework of the definition and additionally, neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad is a terrorist  organization according to the laws of Turkey,” said lawyer Gülden Sönmez, a member of the   administrative board of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH) who has written several articles on the law adopted by the Turkish Parliament.

Compiled from AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.