Israeli military officials said that two Palestinians, who were killed during clashes with Israeli troops outside Jerusalem on Thursday night, fired on Israeli forces during the demonstration.
A senior IDF official said that “the two opened fire at our forces with Kalashnikov rifles from inside the protest” at the Qalandiya checkpoint, Ynet reported. Israel’s Channel 2 also quoted military sources saying they came under live fire in the course of the protest.
Thousands of Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah late Thursday, and riots broke out at several flashpoints near and inside East Jerusalem.
Palestinian sources said two demonstrators were killed at Qalandiya and over 100 were wounded.
Police used crowd-dispersal munitions, including rubber bullets and tear gas, as they also came under a hail of rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown by the protesters near the checkpoint, a major passage between Israel and the West Bank.
Two policemen were lightly injured in the disturbances.
Palestinian Authority officials called for a “Day of Rage” across the West Bank Friday, in protest at the deaths and in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and Islamic Jihad called for marches in Ramallah and Hebron, respectively.
There were further protests in Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighborhood on Friday morning, and police were braced for further demonstrations and disturbances.
Riots broke out Thursday in a number of locations in the eastern part of the city as well, including in Ras al-Amoud and Silwan as well as inside the Old City of Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.
Several roads in the capital were closed due to the disturbances.
Palestinian sources claimed there were tens of thousands at the various demonstrations, and Israel estimated at least 10,000 — the largest such protests in years. The protests were encouraged by Hamas, Channel 2 reported. The report also said there had been an upsurge in gunfire at Israeli troops in the West Bank in recent days.
Thursday evening was the last night of Ramadan, called Laylat al-Qadr or the Night of Power, which is considered one of the most important dates in the month-long festival.
Police anticipated unrest and deployed thousands of officers and para-military Border Police in East Jerusalem.
The forces were to stay until the conclusion of Friday prayers.
Israel’s ongoing military offensive to stem Hamas attacks from Gaza has prompted anger in the West Bank.
There have also been sporadic riots in East Jerusalem ever since the discovery of the body of a teenager Arab who was kidnapped and burned to death last month.
Police arrested three alleged Jewish extremists who confessed to the crime and said that it was in revenge for the killing of three Jewish teenagers, allegedly by Hamas terrorists, on June 12.