‘Anger, sadness’: Thousands mourn Palestinians killed by Israel

The two men died from their wounds after being shot by Israeli forces, as Palestinian fighters handed over the body of an Israeli who had died in a car accident in the West Bank.

Two Israeli soldiers with guns
The Israeli army have been conducting near-daily raids on the occupied West Bank, leading to Palestinian deaths and arrests [File: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters]

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – Two Palestinian men have succumbed to their wounds after they were shot by the Israeli army in separate incidents in the northern Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

Mohammad Abu Kishek, aged 22, was pronounced dead by the Palestinian Ministry of Health on Wednesday night, less than 24 hours after he was shot in the stomach by Israeli forces during a raid on Tuesday night.

Another man, 30-year-old Mohammad Hirzallah, a fighter with the Lions’ Den armed resistance group, succumbed to wounds he sustained when he was shot by the Israeli army in the head in July, while engaging in armed clashes in Nablus. Hirzallah was fighting alongside two well-known leaders of the Lions’ Den when he was injured.

Thousands of Palestinians turned out for the funeral procession of Abu Kishek and Hirzallah, which began on Thursday morning in Nablus city. Dozens of armed men were present, shooting live ammunition into the air in a demonstration of anger and mourning.

“There is rage and sadness … There was an evident presence of armed men, from the Lions’ Den and other armed groups,” local journalist Mohammad Muna, who attended the funerals, told Al Jazeera.

Hirzallah, who spent four months in hospital and underwent several surgeries, passed away at the Istishari Hospital in Ramallah.

His body was transferred in a large convoy to Nablus on Wednesday night. Local media reported that Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces attacked the convoy and mourners on the main roundabout in Nablus with tear gas and stun grenades.

“It appears that there was a demand or security order to the armed men to not come out publicly with their weapons, and to not shoot live ammunition into the air,” said Muna. “The presence of the security services on the roundabout, with their armoured vehicles, seems to have annoyed the men.”

“It appears that there was an exchange of strong language, and some of the men began chanting against the security services, so it developed from there and led to the officers firing tear gas and live ammunition into the air,” he added.

The PA has not yet commented on the incident.

A third Palestinian was killed earlier on Wednesday, 16-year-old Ahmad Amjad Shehadeh, during the same Nablus raid Abu Kishek was shot at on Tuesday night.

The killings came as two explosions rocked Jerusalem on Wednesday morning, in what Israeli authorities said was a coordinated attack by Palestinians that left one Israeli dead and at least 12 injured.

Israeli authorities continued to search for the suspected attackers on Thursday.

The first explosion took place near an Israeli bus station along a highway on the western entrance into Jerusalem near Givat Shaul, while the second was smaller and took place half hour later at the northern entrance to Jerusalem in Ramot.

Separately on Wednesday, Israeli forces demolished a recently built Palestinian primary school in the area of Masafer Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank, where more than 1,300 residents are facing imminent forced displacement. The school had been built by the PA with European Union (EU) funding.

PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the demolition of the school “comes as part of a war that Israel is waging on our people,” including through violations against education and students.

The Israeli army said it had demolished a building built illegally in an area designated as a closed firing zone.

Since 1967, Israel has designated some 18 percent of the occupied West Bank as closed military training or firing zones, rendering more than 6,000 Palestinians as “illegal” residents.

Body handed over

On Thursday at dawn, Palestinian fighters handed over the body of an 18-year-old Israeli who died in a car crash near Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank after holding it for two days.

The PA had pressured the fighters to release the body, which was handed over to the Israeli army at the Salem checkpoint in northern Jenin.

Tensions in the occupied West Bank and Israel have been on the boil since last year.

Israeli army raids and killings of Palestinians across the occupied West Bank have increased and happen on a near-daily basis, in parallel with a rise in Palestinian armed attacks, as well as an increase in settler attacks against Palestinians.

More than 200 Palestinians, including more than 50 children, have been killed by Israel in the occupied territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip – in the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2006.

More than 25 people have been killed in Israel.

The developments come as Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been tasked with forming the next Israeli government after coming out on top in this month’s general elections, continues negotiations to form a new his coalition with far-right and ultra-nationalist parties.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu announced that he had agreed with his ally, the head of the Religious Zionism party Bezalel Smotrich, to give the latter control over the Israeli army body in charge of administering the occupied West Bank, known as COGAT.

The position will mean that Smotrich, a controversial figure who has openly encouraged violence against Palestinians, will be in charge of Area C, which makes up the 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli military and civil control, and where all illegal Israeli settlements are located.

Smotrich will oversee Palestinian construction in Area C, where it is already extremely restricted. He will also be in charge of Israeli settlement construction, security coordination between the Israeli army and the PA, and permits for Palestinian workers in Israel.

In 2019, in reaction to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to launch an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes, Smotrich called for the dismantling of the PA and said the ICC was a “political, anti-Semitic institution”.

Source: Al Jazeera