Hamas chief vows never to relinquish East or West Jerusalem

Funeral held in Gaza for wheelchair-bound man killed in clashes

Palestinians say Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh was regular feature at rallies along the border; his brother says he lost his legs in a 2008 Israeli airstrike

Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh at the Gaza border on December 15, 2017. (YouTube screenshot)
Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh at the Gaza border on December 15, 2017. (YouTube screenshot)

A funeral was held Saturday in the Gaza Strip for Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh, a wheelchair-bound amputee who was killed during riots along the Gaza border Friday, Palestinians said.

The Israeli army has said it fired selectively on chief instigators during “extremely violent riots” along the border on Friday, in which a second Palestinian was also reported killed.

In a funeral address, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh termed Abu Thurayeh a hero and a martyr, and vowed never to relinquish Jerusalem. “And I don’t mean East Jerusalem, but unified Jerusalem,” he said, in footage screened by Israel’s Channel 10. “Not East Jerusalem and not West Jerusalem. Muslim. Muslim.”

AFP said that Abu Thurayeh, a regular feature at protests at the border, had lost his legs in a 2008 Israeli airstrike.

This file photo taken on May 19, 2017 shows Palestinian demonstrator Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh waving a Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli soldiers near the border fence east of Gaza City. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

The unmarried 29-year-old lived at home with his parents and had been without regular work since a 2008 incident in which he lost his legs, the agency said.

“He was injured in 2008 by an Israeli helicopter that targeted him after he brought down the Israeli flag and raised the Palestinian flag along the border,” his brother Samir told AFP after his death was confirmed on Friday. “It did not stop him from demonstrating for Jerusalem. He went alone every day to the border.”

In video footage recorded early on Friday, Abu Thurayeh could be seen carrying the Palestinian flag and waving the victory sign at Israeli soldiers across the border.

“I want to go there,” he said, referring to the other side of the border, as a number of young men surrounding him waved Palestinian flags and others threw stones towards the troops. “This land is our land, we will not give up. America has to withdraw its decision,” he said in another video posted on social media.

Thousands of Palestinians protested in Gaza on Friday over US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital.

Palestinians consider the east of the city, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war, as the capital of their future state. Trump said his declaration did not prejudge a final status agreement as part of a future peace deal, but Palestinians have been infuriated by the decision.

A few hours before his death, and despite having no legs, Abu Thurayeh climbed an electricity pole to raise the Palestinian flag, eyewitnesses and journalists present said.

A Palestinian protester uses a sling shot to throw stones towards Israeli security forces during clashes with Israeli security forces near the border fence with Israel, east of Gaza City on December 15, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

What happened after that remains unclear.

Several thousand Palestinians along the Gaza border threw stones at Israeli soldiers, with clashes lasting for several hours. Two men were killed, including Abu Thurayeh.

The Israeli military said there were “extremely violent riots” throughout the day. “Soldiers fired selectively towards main instigators,” an army spokeswoman said.

The Guardian quoted eyewitnesses who said Abu Thurayeh’s wheelchair had been pushed up to the fence, whereupon he climbed out of it and tried to crawl forward towards it, before being hit.

Abu Thurayeh was one of three Palestinians who were killed on Friday in clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank and Gaza. A fourth was fatally shot after stabbing an Israeli border police officer near Ramallah.

In the past week, over a dozen rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza. A number of them fell short, five were shot down by the Iron Dome defense system, and six struck Israel, two of which caused damage in the southern town of Sderot.

Hamas, the terror group which rules Gaza and seeks to destroy Israel, has called for a new intifada to liberate Jerusalem and urged Palestinians to confront soldiers and settlers.

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