Saturday, January 16, 2021

Humanitarian ceasefire extended, clashes continue in West Bank

By Haley Paladino - July 26, 2014
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [al-Aqsa] [Gaza] [Qalandiya checkpoint]

A burning tyre close to Qalandia checkpoint on the evening of the 48,000 march. |  Haley Paladino



A 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire went into effect in the Gaza Strip at 8 a.m. this morning and was extended by four hours at 7:25 GMT this evening. The break in violence is intended to allow Gazans throughout the Strip to stock up on food, supplies and to recover dead bodies from heaps of rubble in the destroyed areas of the Strip. 


The death toll since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge began 19 days ago has climbed above 1,000 as families have been able to retrieve the remains of their loved ones from the wreckage, a large proportion of which is in the devastated areas of Beit Hanoun, Shujaiyya and Khan Younis. Access to these areas has been impossible during the intense warfare. 


United States Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Paris today to continue ceasefire negotiations. The Israeli security cabinet rejected a proposal from Kerry yesterday. A new proposal is expected to better accommodate Israel's demands to continue its campaign of destroying Hamas-operated underground tunnels to Israel and Egypt. The tunnels are a crucial source of funding and supplies for Hamas, as well as integral part of the Gaza economy, which has suffered from the severe Egyptian-Israeli blockade. 


Hamas has indicated their primary concern in a long-term ceasefire negotiations is a reopening of the Rafa crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. 


Kerry will be joined in the negotiations by representatives from Turkey, Qatar, Britain, Germany, Italy and the European Union.


Solidarity from the river to the sea


Eight Palestinians have been killed in ongoing clashes in Hebron and Nablus following massive demonstrations in the West Bank Thursday night. One death in Nablus appears to have been caused by an Israeli settler.


Thursday’s protests were organized to show solidarity with the besieged Gaza Strip. The largest demonstration took place in Ramallah, where an estimated 10,000 Palestinians marched to the Qalandia checkpoint, the primary military barrier between Ramallah and Jerusalem, with the intention of reaching Al-Aqsa mosque. It was the largest demonstration in the West Bank since the second intifada. Palestinian youth battled Israeli soldiers with stones and molotov cocktails, who responded with live fire. 200 were injured and two killed in the clashes. Clashes took place virtually ever town in the West Bank that same night


In Jerusalem, a group of Palestinian youth fought their way past an Israeli blockade of the al-Aqsa compound. As per usual on Laylat al-Qadr, one of the holiest nights in the Islamic calendar, Israeli military forbade men under 50 years of age to enter the mosque Thursday night. Clashes took place in the compound and Palestinian youth set fire to an Israeli police building inside the compound. Clashes proliferated through the city and surrounding neighborhoods and the historic old city. Israeli soldiers used live fire, rubber bullets and skunk water to disperse the protesting crowds. It was the first incident of violence on this scale within the old city since the first intifada.


Some members of Fatah have called for continued protests over the past two days. Clashes have persisted in Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron and Bethlehem. Tensions are running high as whispers of a third intifada circulate throughout the occupied territories, though opinions differ as to whether the situation is ripe enough for such an uprising to take hold.


"We think it's not yet because there is this inner control mechanism by the P.A. (Palestinian Authority)," said a Jerusalem-based activist present at Thursday’s clashes who preferred not to be named. "Fatah is here [in the East Jeruslaem community] and several leaders from the committee are trying to stop all of these protests in different ways."


Hebron-based activist Issa Amro of Youth Against Settlements thinks frustrations in the occupied West Bank are high enough to fuel another intifada. 


"It’s happening now, but it's about if it continues or not. It's about political decisions," said Amro. He suggested the only component differentiating current clashes throughout the West Bank and the beginning of a third intifada is an official declaration that the uprising has begun. 


Since the three Israeli settlers were kidnapped close to Hebron six weeks ago, the city and its surrounding villages have seen the most violent and consistent clashes, nearly nightly, between protesters and Israeli forces.


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