Israel-Gaza conflict: At least two killed in West Bank protests against Israel's military offensive in Gaza

An estimated 200 Palestinians were injured as Israeli police and protesters clashed near Jerusalem

Jack Simpson
Friday 25 July 2014 16:08 BST
Israel reports say that protesters threw rocks and other missiles in protest
Israel reports say that protesters threw rocks and other missiles in protest (Getty Images)

At least two Palestinians died and 200 more were injured as thousands marched in the West Bank to protest against Israel’s continued military campaign in Gaza.

An estimated 10,000 people marched from Ramallah to East Jerusalem to protest the Israel Defence Forces' continued offensive against Hamas, which has now seen 800 Palestinians die in the past 18 days.

Setting off from the West Bank City of Ramallah, protesters were met by Israel Defence Forces (IDF) personnel in the volatile area of Qalandiya just west of Jerusalem.

Reports say that protesters began to throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police and had also blocked one of the main roads with a fiery blockade of burning tyres, in what the Israeli media report is the largest protest in the West Bank for nine years.

To quell the violence, the Israeli authorities say that they began by using “riot dispersal means” including tear gas and rubber bullets; however, they would not confirm whether live rounds were used or not.

Fire, smoke and clouds of tear gas filled the area in which the clashes took place, with many of the injured seen carried away by fellow protestors.

In Ramallah Hospital, it was claimed that nearly a dozen of the wounded had been treated for live-fire wounds and that the hospital was in urgent need of more blood donations to deal with the scores of injured.

The unrest at Qalandiya quickly spread to other areas around the West Bank region with smaller scale protests taking place in a number of other areas including l-Tur, Mount of Olives, al-Suwaneh, Silwan, Wadi Joz, Bab Azahra, Ras al-Amud and Jerusalem’s Old city.

In Jerusalem’s Old City, a smaller clash occurred when Israel authorities banned anyone male under the age of 50 of visiting the popular al-Aqsa mosque.

Israeli police said the unrest resulted in 20 protesters being arrested for throwing rocks at officers.

Today, the last day of Ramadan, similar protests are expected.

Reports say that Palestinian leaders have called for a “day of rage” in the West Bank and for Palestinians to hit the streets to put pressure on the Israeli government to stop their military offensive in Gaza.

Early on Friday morning, Qatar-based Hamas spokesman Husham Badran called on Palestinians in the West Bank to rise up against Israel saying the “the time is right.”

Thursday’s protests were called by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, the West Bank-based Palestinian political group, in reaction to the IDF’s continued military offensive in Gaza and, more specifically, in reaction to the shelling of the UN-run school turned shelter in Beit Hanoun that saw 15 people, including children, killed and over 200 injured.

However, Israel authorities say they are still unsure whether it was their military forces that were responsible for the attacks.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight on Thursday, while not ruling out the possibility that the IDF could be responsible, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said that they were still unsure whether it was their fire that had led to the deaths in the school.

In a statement released earlier by the IDF they said that they were in the midst of combat "with Hamas terrorists in the area of Beit Hanoun, who are using civilian infrastructure and international symbols as human shields".

"In the course of the afternoon, several rockets launched by Hamas from within the Gaza Strip landed in the Beit Hanoun area. The IDF is reviewing the incident."

According to UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees, Chris Gunness, he said that the IDF had been given the coordinates of the school’s location and had been warned that a number of Palestinian civilians were being sheltered in the building.

Israeli police and protestors clashed in Qalandiya just west of Jerusalem
Israeli police and protestors clashed in Qalandiya just west of Jerusalem (Getty Images)

In reaction to the incident, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was "appalled" by the attack and said it underscored "the imperative for the killing to stop - and to stop now".

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says 44 per cent of Gaza has now been designated as a no-go zone by the IDF and that a large percentage of 118,000 people sheltering in UN-run schools were now beginning to run out of food.

Last night saw Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, once again call for a ceasefire and the end of Gaza’s “slow death” as the IDF’s campaign continues.

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