World

Palestinians, Israelis battle in West Bank, Gaza on 'day of rage'

Stone-throwing protests erupted across the West Bank and Gaza on Friday, and assailants fire-bombed a site revered by Jews as the tomb of biblical Joseph on a "day of rage" against Israel.

UN Security Council convenes emergency meeting to discuss the escalation

RAW: Palestinians declare 'day of rage' in Israel

6 years ago
Duration 1:20
Violence occurs in several cities; soldiers struggle to keep protesters at bay 1:20

Stone-throwing protests erupted across the West Bank and Gaza on Friday, and assailants fire-bombed a site revered by Jews as the tomb of biblical Joseph on a "day of rage" against Israel. Four Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including a labourer disguised as a journalist who stabbed an Israeli soldier.

In New York, the UN Security Council convened an emergency meeting to discuss the escalation, which has been marked by a spate of Palestinian stabbing attacks and an Israeli security crackdown. Troops manned roadblocks in Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, a centre of unrest, and ordered some Palestinian men to lift their shirts to show they were not armed.

The violence comes at a time when a possible partition of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean into two states — Palestine alongside Israel — is fading. This has left many Palestinians frustrated because all paths to independence appear blocked.

The tensions have also been stoked by Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to expand its presence at a major Muslim-run shrine in Jerusalem, a claim Israel has denied.

Taye-Brook Zerihoun, a senior UN official, told the Security Council that Israel's long rule over the Palestinians and diminishing prospects for achieving a Palestinian state have transformed "long-simmering Palestinian anger into outright rage." The current crisis cannot be resolved by security measures alone, Zerihoun warned.

'Dangerous incitement'

Israel's new UN ambassador, Danny Danon, accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of "dangerous incitement" against Israel with what he called "hate-filled speech," including claims that Israel is trying to change the status quo at the al-Aqsa mosque. The shrine is revered by Muslims as the spot where Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven and by Jews as the home of their biblical temples.

The hilltop compound is a frequent flashpoint of violence.

Over the past month, eight Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them stabbings. During the same period, 36 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire — 15 labelled by Israel as attackers, and the others in clashes between stone-throwers and Israeli troops, according to AP reports.

Reuters reporters have put the figures at at least 37 Palestinians killed, including attackers and children in assaults and confrontations, and seven Israelis in stabbings and other attacks on buses and in the streets.

Most of the attacks on Israelis were carried out by Palestinians with no known ties to militant groups. Palestinian factions, including Abbas's Fatah and its rival, the Islamic militant Hamas, have mainly been involved in organizing stone-throwing protests in the West Bank and on the Israel-Gaza border.

'Day of rage'

On Friday, hundreds joined protests after Muslim noon prayers, after Palestinian factions called for a "day of rage."

Israeli troops opened fire in several locations, killing three Palestinians, including two in Gaza and a 19-year-old in the town of Beit Furik in the West Bank.

Munadil Hanani, a protest organizer in Beit Furik, said hundreds of Palestinians walked to an Israeli military post on the outskirts of the town and threw stones at troops who responded with live rounds and rubber-coated steel pellets.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, dozens of Palestinians firebombed a site known as Joseph's Tomb that is revered by some Jews as the burial place of the son of the biblical patriarch Jacob. The pre-dawn attack blackened exterior walls of the stone structure located near the Balata refugee camp and a scene of Israeli-Palestinian clashes in the past.

Abbas condemned the arson as "irresponsible," ordered an investigation and promised quick repairs.

In the West Bank city of Hebron, a Palestinian labourer posed as a journalist covering a stone-throwing clash to get close to Israeli soldiers. Wearing a T-shirt with the word "press" in large letters on the front and back, the man mingled with journalists standing near the soldiers, who were firing tear gas at stone-throwers.

At one point, shouts were heard, followed by several gunshots.

Troops rushed to the scene where one of the soldiers had been stabbed, and administered aid to the wounded soldier who was eventually taken away by ambulance. The attacker, identified as Eyad Awawdeh, 26,lay on the ground, clutching a knife in his right hand.

The incident heightened concerns among journalists about their safety.

Groups representing journalists, including the Foreign Press Association, said the impostor's actions could further endanger reporters, photographers and camera operators.

"Everybody is worried that it will be open season on reporters," said Glenys Sugarman, executive director of the group, which represents journalists who work for international news outlets covering Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

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