RAMALLAH: Israeli forces yesterday shot dead two Palestinians during a Nakba Day demonstration in the West Bank, prompting a Palestinian warning of a halt in security coordination with the Jewish state.
The demonstration was held to mark the anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe” of the 1948 establishment of the state of Israel on the former British mandate of Palestine.
“The Palestinian leadership cannot remain idle in the face of Israel’s violations, the latest of which was the killing of the two young Palestinians today (Thursday)” near Ramallah on the West Bank, Palestinian security spokesman Adnan Al Damiri said.
“And all this prompts the leadership to seriously consider a halt to security coordination with the Israeli side,” he said.
According to Israeli media, the Jewish state counts on coordination with the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its “targeted” killings in Gaza and to counter threats in the West Bank.
Security and medical sources earlier said Musaab Nuwarah, 20, and Mohammed Udeh, 17, died in a Ramallah hospital after being shot in the chest during a protest outside Ofer jail near Ramallah.
Israel’s military said its border police had clashed with around 150 protesters, using “anti-riot methods and rubber bullets”, although Damiri said live rounds were fired.
Protesters set fire to tyres and hurled stones at border police, an army spokesman said.
Other Palestinian rallies for Nakba Day were held in the northern city of Nablus, in Hebron in the south of the West Bank and in east Jerusalem, where police reported a clash and arrests.
Hundreds of demonstrators, some carrying Palestinian flags or banners calling for refugees to be allowed to return to their former homes, also marched in the Gaza Strip near the Erez crossing with Israel.
In Ramallah, where Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and his PA has their headquarters, people stood in silence on the streets for 66 seconds while sirens wailed.
“On this 66th anniversary of the Nakba, we hope this year will be the one in which our long suffering ends,” Abbas said in a speech broadcast late on Wednesday. “It is time to put an end to the longest occupation in modern history and time for Israel’s leaders to understand that there is no other homeland for the Palestinians but Palestine,” he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday accused the Palestinians of teaching their children that Israel “should be made to disappear”.
The Israeli answer was to “continue building our country and our unified capital, Jerusalem”, said the right-wing premier.
“Another answer to the Nakba is our passing the Nation Law, clarifying to the world that Israel is the State of the Jewish people,” he said in remarks relayed by his office.
Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erakat, in a commentary published in Israel’s left-leaning daily Haaretz, said the PLO has officially recognised Israel’s right to exist since 1988.
But “the concept of an exclusively Jewish state necessarily implies the negation of the Nakba”, Erakat wrote.