Protests erupt in West Bank ahead of anniversary of Palestinian declaration of independence
Two Israelis injured after demonstrators throw rocks at vehicle; hundreds block roads, clash with soldiers; US consulate warns government employees from traveling on West Bank roads
Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.
Palestinians, supported by foreign activists, were demonstrating in dozens of places across the West Bank on Wednesday ahead of the 24th anniversary of their declaration of independence on November 15.
Hundreds of protesters took part in the disruptions, during which Palestinians threw rocks at Israeli cars and tried to block roads, leading to clashes with Israeli security forces, who dispersed the protesters using tear gas. Several demonstrators were detained.
According to Palestinian media sources, six demonstrators were wounded in clashes with soldiers and border police.
Two Israelis were lightly injured north of the settlement of Efrat after protesters pelted their vehicle with rocks. Demonstrators also threw rocks at Israeli vehicles near the West Bank settlement of Tekoa and tried to block a road south of Hebron.
Demonstrators briefly blocked Route 446. Several sections of Route 60, a main north-south artery that runs from Nazareth to Beersheba via the West Bank, were closed to traffic during the day.
The US consulate cancelled all non-official travel by US government employees to and through the West Bank on Routes 1, 90, and 443, as well as travel to Jericho and Bethlehem, due to the ongoing demonstrations.
In 1988, the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, declared Palestinian independence at the end of the 19th Palestinian National Council meeting and immediately assumed the title of president.
The declaration, which has since been recognized by over 100 countries, does not describe the border of the State of Palestine but does identify its capital as Jerusalem.
This week also marks the eighth anniversary of Arafat’s death on November 11, 2004, which many Palestinians blame on Israel. His body is set to be exhumed later this month to be tested for signs of polonium poisoning. A leading French doctor at the hospital where he died told The Times of Israel this week there was “absolutely no way” he had been poisoned.