Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated across the West Bank on Tuesday to protest the recent US announcement that it no longer believes Israeli settlements in the West Bank violate international law. As the so-called “day of rage” continued, groups of protesters clashed with Israeli security forces in several flashpoints, with 77 reported lightly injured.
Around two thousand people gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah. They set ablaze posters of US President Donald Trump as well as Israeli and American flags. Schools, universities and government offices were shuttered and rallies were held in city centers around the West Bank.
“The biased American policy toward Israel, and the American support of the Israeli settlements and the Israeli occupation, leaves us with only one option: To go back to resistance,” Mahmoud Aloul, an official with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, told the crowd in Ramallah.
Demonstrators held signs reading: “Trump to impeachment, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to jail, the occupation will go and we will remain on our land.”
"יום הזעם" בגדה | המפגינים הפלסטינים התחילו להתפזר ממוקדי החיכוך והפרות הסדר. לא נרשמו תקריות מיוחדות במהלך היום. על פי הצלב האדום, 77 פלסטינים נפצעו קל בעימותים • צפו בתיעוד מהמהומות בטול כרם @zeragil @Generalzini pic.twitter.com/D61MH0TiTp
— חדשות 13 (@newsisrael13) November 26, 2019
At Israeli checkpoints near Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron, dozens of protesters threw stones at Israeli forces who responded with tear gas.
Dozens of protesters were lightly hurt, according to Palestinian rescue services.
The protests came just hours after the death from cancer of a Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody. Organizers had also called for the demonstrations — first planned before his death — to call for the release of Sami Abu Diak, 35, who was involved in three deaths, to allow him to die at his family’s side. Israeli officials denied the request.
Organized by Fatah, Tuesday’s protests focused on the Trump administration’s announcement on Israeli settlements last week. The decision upended four decades of American policy and embraced the Israeli government’s longtime view that settlements are legal, a move the Palestinians view as coming at the expense of their quest for statehood.
Israeli leaders welcomed the US decision, while the Palestinians and most of the world say the settlements undermine hopes for a two-state solution by gobbling up land sought by the Palestinians. Israel says the fate of the settlements should be determined in negotiations, even as it steadily expands them.
Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and quickly began settling the newly conquered territory.
Today, some 700,000 Israelis live in the two areas, which are both claimed by the Palestinians for their state. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980 in a move not recognized by the international community and considers the entirety of the city its capital.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had specifically announced that the US was repudiating the 1978 legal opinion by the Carter administration’s State Department that settlements were illegal, a view shared by most succeeding administrations.
That opinion had been the basis for more than 40 years of carefully worded US opposition to settlement construction that had varied in its tone and strength, depending on the US president’s position. President Ronald Reagan, for instance, said settlements were not inherently illegal, though he called them unhelpful and provocative. Other administrations had called them “illegitimate” and “obstacles to peace.”
Abu Diak, the Palestinian prisoner, died in an Israeli hospital early Tuesday, according to Israel’s prisons service. In a statement, it said he was serving three life sentences for voluntary manslaughter and kidnapping of Palestinians accused of “collaborating” with Israel, among other charges.
He was linked to the armed wing of the Palestinian Fatah faction and was arrested in the early 2000s, during the second Palestinian intifada. He was allegedly involved in the killing of three Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israeli security forces.
The Palestinian Authority had reached out to European countries and the Red Cross to apply pressure on Israel to release him.
Previous deaths of terminally ill Palestinian prisoners have sparked protests and accusations of medical negligence on the part of Israeli authorities.