Home news Palestinian Authority cracks down on protests over Israel Gaza attacks

Palestinian Authority cracks down on protests over Israel Gaza attacks

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Ramallah, occupied West Bank – A young Palestinian girl was shot and killed by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces on Tuesday during protests in the northern West Bank city of Jenin in response to the deadly explosion at a hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The family of 12-year-old Razan Nasrallah confirmed to Al Jazeera that she was killed at about 10pm on Tuesday night.

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“A bullet entered the right side of her chest. It pierced her lungs and hit her heart,” her uncle, 64-year-old Ziad Nasrallah told Al Jazeera.

“We consider her a martyr who was killed defending Gaza. We mourn her with pride,” he continued.

A funeral procession was held for her on Wednesday morning in Jenin.

 

[Translation: “It is with great pride that we mourn our daughter the martyr and child, Razan Attaba Hamidi Nasrallah, who was martyred in defence of religion and in support of our people in Gaza.”]

Another Palestinian youth, Mohammad Sawafta – a first-year university student – was also seriously injured by PA fire in the northwestern West Bank city of Tubas.

The football training academy where he used to coach shared his photo on Facebook on Wednesday.

[Translation: The family of Master Coach Athletic Academy wishes the coach in Tubas Mohammad Marai Sawafta a speedy recovery from his injury yesterday.]

Also, another Palestinian man, Ahmad Moeen al-Rimawi, 31, was killed in confrontations with Israeli forces in the village of Nabi Saleh east of Ramallah on Tuesday night, while at least 30 others were injured across the occupied West Bank.

‘Let the people protest’

Thousands of people across the West Bank and Jerusalem had come out to attend protests on Tuesday night following the bombing of the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City that killed at least 500 people.

Images and videos aired by journalists at the scene showed countless bodies strewn across the ground and people carrying the limbs of their slain loves ones in cloth bags, on the 12th day of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

Back in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers and settlers have also killed at least 64 Palestinians over the past 12 days in military raids and arrests in Palestinian neighbourhoods, towns and villages.

That escalating violence has sparked protests in Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, Tubas, Hebron and Bethlehem against both the Palestinian Authority (PA) in city centres and Israeli forces at checkpoints, military bases and settlements.

PA security forces have cracked down on protesters with live ammunition, tear gas and stun grenades, with at least a dozen people injured, causing further outrage on Tuesday night.

In Ramallah, where the PA is based, protesters hurled rocks, chairs and other items at PA armoured vehicles attempting to disperse them.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Jenin, a 37-year-old man who attended Tuesday’s protest and who asked not to be named, said “it was a wave of anger against the people who are just standing by and taking a position of neutrality”.

“About 80,000 PA officers are silent, while dozens of people are being killed in Gaza by the Israeli army and by settlers and the army in the West Bank,” he continued.

“Security forces tried to disperse the protests, which led to confrontations with the demonstrators. The security forces fired live ammunition, which led to the martyrdom of a girl, and dozens of others injured,” the man added.

In Nablus, a 45-year-old protester, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the people “demand the PA security forces protect the people in the face of this unprecedented Israeli attack whether from the army or settlers”.

“If they are not able to – or do not want to – then the least they could do is to leave people to defend themselves. Let people protest and come out to express their anger without blocking them,” he said.

The most common chant in protests has been: “Put the sword before the sword, we are the men of Mohammed Deif,” in reference to the commander of Hamas military wing, the Qassam Brigades, but protests on Tuesday also included a call for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to step down.

The increasing confrontations and tensions with the PA, which many on the ground describe as subcontractors for the Israeli occupation, are casting a shadow of fear and uncertainty over stability in the occupied West Bank.

On Tuesday night, the armed wing of Abbas’s Fatah party, which operates independently, released a statement calling for Abbas to step down as the head of its Martyrs and Prisoners Commission.

“We give him until Thursday evening to hand over the tasks he has seized,” it said, warning that “if he does not do so, he will become a legitimate target for strikes by our Palestinian armed groups and people,” adding it would “lift the organisational and national cover off of him.”

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a coalition of armed resistance groups, also called for “forming an emergency committee to pledge allegiance to Commander Marwan Barghouti, who lies in prison, as the supreme commander of the Palestinian revolutionary forces”. Barghouti is a leading figure of the Palestinian resistance, who has often been tipped as a potential successor to Abbas within Fatah.

Protests continued on Wednesday afternoon, with PA forces again cracking down on demonstrators in Nablus.

Hospital attack

Later, an atmosphere of quiet tension set in on the West Bank on Wednesday morning, as schools, restaurants and stores shut their doors in observance of a general strike called for by officials and activists in response to the deaths at al-Ahli Arab Hospital.

“The massacre was indescribable. The majority of victims are children and women whose features have been wiped. Among the victims were people without heads, and torn up body parts,” spokesperson for the Gaza health ministry, Ashraf al-Qidra, said in a press conference following the attack.

He said that the situation “has surpassed the capabilities of medical and emergency teams,” adding that doctors are being forced to “carry out operations on the floor and corridors of the hospital”, often without anaesthesia.

The humanitarian situation in the tiny coastal enclave, home to more than two million Palestinians, had already reached breaking point prior to the attack on the hospital, with officials warning that there were only “24 hours of water, electricity and fuel left”.

Residents of the besieged strip are also facing grave shortages of basic supplies including baby formula and flour, with most supermarkets running out of stock.

Israel has been imposing a land, sea and air blockade on the Gaza Strip for the past 17 years, in what has long been described as the “world’s largest open-air prison”. During this period, Israel has launched multiple large-scale assaults on the Strip, killing thousands of Palestinians.

Additional reporting by Shadi Jaraar’ah in Nablus.

Source: Al Jazeera

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