IDF Rains Flash Grenades, Tear Gas on West Bank Funeral
Violence mars procession to honor Palestinian prisoner and two teens killed by IDF forces
In the latest incident in what is being called "some of the worst violence in the occupied West Bank in years," the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) reportedly shot flash grenades and tear gas at a funeral procession in Hebron on Thursday.
The thousands of mourners gathered in honor of three Palestinians, an Israeli prisoner and two youths shot by the IDF on Wednesday. The IDF was allegedly responding to stones which were thrown by some of the assembled mourners.
The uptick in violence follows the recent death of Maysara Abu Hamdeya, a 64-year-old prisoner serving a life term in an Israeli jail and suffering from cancer, who was one of the victims being honored on Thursday. His death came as a result of delayed treatment at the hands of the Israeli prison system.
The two Palestinian teenagers were shot by IDF forces during a wave of incidents following reports of Hamdeya's death.
The Guardian reports:
The Israeli army said troops fired on Palestinians who threw firebombs at a guard post after dark on Wednesday near Tulkarm, in the northern West Bank. One body was swiftly recovered and a second was found in the early hours of Thursday.
Palestinian officials named the dead men as Amer Nassar, 17, and Naji Belbisi, 18. The army said it was investigating the incident, which left at least one other Palestinian wounded.
As crowds chanted "O martyrs rest, rest. We will continue the struggle," the bodies of the two teens, "their blood-stained faces clearly visible, were carried on stretchers through the packed streets of Anabta," Reuters reports.
This incident follows the bombing Wednesday of two targets in the Gaza strip by the Israeli military, the first such air strikes since a cease-fire was declared last fall.
The Israeli army also reports that for a third straight day on Thursday, rockets fired from Gaza have struck southern Israel, though no casualties or damage were reported.
According to the United Nations office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israeli forces have killed nine Palestinians so far this year—most of them in clashes in the West Bank—compared with three in the same period in 2012.
"Israel has full responsibility for the escalation in the Palestinian territories and is trying to ignite chaos," Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Thursday in responding to the killing of the two teens.
"Israel is trying to muddy the waters and sow chaos because there's no way peaceful demonstrations should lead to two deaths."
The latest upsurge in violence comes days ahead of of a scheduled visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Jerusalem and Ramallah in an attempt to revive the peace negotiations that broke down in 2010.
Al-Fajer TV shared this video of Thursday's funeral procession: