Palestinians in West Bank protest Israel’s annexation plans
Demonstrations held in several cities against Israeli government’s intention to annex settlements, Jordan Valley; also mark anniversary of start of Six Day War
Palestinians in the West Bank on Friday rallied to mark 53 years since Israel captured the area from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and protest against the Israeli government’s plans to annex parts of the territory.
In Tulkarem, in the northern West Bank, dozens of demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against Israeli settlements and the annexation plans, which could move ahead as soon as July 1.
Israeli troops fired stun grenades and tear gas to repel protesters approaching a military checkpoint.
“This march shows our rejection of any plan of settlement or annexation,” said Iyad Jarada, secretary of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party in the city. “This is our land and we will defend it with all our power and energy.”
Near Tubas, also in the northern West Bank, a protester was wounded in the head by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli forces, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
There was no immediate comment from the IDF.
Further protests were taking place in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Jericho, and the Jordan Valley, an area which could be annexed as part of the Israeli plan.
In the southern West Bank city of Hebron hundreds gathered, chanting against Israel and the US.
Palestinians are vocal in their opposition to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, which gives Israel the green light to annex Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in what is intended to be part of a negotiated process but may go ahead unilaterally.
Much of the international community has already expressed strong opposition to the move and the US has also recently indicated that it wants Israel to slow down.
After more than a year of political deadlock and two inconclusive elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz in April joined in a coalition government.
Under their agreement, from July 1 Netanyahu can move ahead with his annexation project.
The Trump plan also envisions the creation of a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians have rejected the plan outright.
Friday’s protests coincided with the anniversary of what Palestinians call the Naksa, the defeat of Arab countries by Israel in the Six Day War of June 1967.
The fighting ended with Egypt, Jordan and Syria vanquished and Israel taking control of the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and Syria’s Golan Heights.
Sinai was returned to Egypt in a 1979 peace accord with Israel but the Golan and East Jerusalem were retained by the Jewish state.
Israeli withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and the Hamas terror group violently wrested control there from Fatah in 2007.
“Fifty-three years of Israeli occupation today, ending it is an international responsibility,” Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), wrote on Twitter.
More than 450,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, where 2.7 million Palestinians live.
In the Gaza Strip, demonstrators waved Palestinians flags and held placards saying “we will recover our land,” at a rally organized by Hamas.
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report