Palestinian security forces fire tear gas at fighter’s funeral

Businesses shut in a number of cities in the occupied West Bank in protest against Tuesday’s raid in Jenin.

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces have fired tear gas at mourners at the Nablus funeral for one of the six Palestinian men killed in an Israeli raid on Tuesday in Jenin.

The fighter had been a member of Hamas, and had the Palestinian group’s flag draped around him during the funeral on Wednesday, which led to a dispute with the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Hamas’ rival, Fatah.

Thousands of people attended the funeral in the Askar refugee camp for Abdelfattah Kharousheh, who was from the camp.

The Israeli army said it suspects that Kharousheh carried out the drive-by shooting attack in the town of Huwara near Nablus that killed two Israeli settlers on February 26.

Soon after the funeral began, dozens of PA security forces descended onto the streets and suppressed the procession by firing tear gas at mourners, and attempted to block the march with their vehicles.

Local reports said the body of Kharousheh was dropped to the ground during the incident.

The coordinator of the joint Palestinian factions’ coordination committee in Nablus, Nasr Abu Jaish, announced his resignation on Facebook in response to the PA’s actions.

Hamas said in statement that the attack on the procession was a “crime and a serious violation of all national and religious values”, and called “for the punishment of those involved”.

“The scene of martyr Kharousheh’s body falling in Nablus brings back the memory of the martyr Shireen Abu Akleh’s fall at the hands of the occupation forces during her funeral in Jerusalem,” the statement continued, in reference to an attack by Israeli forces on the funeral of the slain Al Jazeera journalist last May.

The left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also condemned the assault, saying it constituted “thuggery that it only practiced by those who have turned their backs’ on our peoples’ resistance,” and called on the PA to “respect our peoples’ rights and their sacrifices”.

The incident came on the same day as a general strike was observed across the occupied West Bank in protest at the Jenin raid.

Businesses in cities including Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah shut their doors.

Schools and public institutions also said they were observing the strike, but they had already planned to close, as Wednesday is also an official public holiday in the occupied West Bank in observance of International Women’s Day.

“The strike comes as a denunciation of the massacre committed by the occupation today in Jenin and its camp, which claimed the lives of six martyrs, in addition to dozens of injuries,” Issam Bakr, a representative of the joint Palestinian factions’ coordination committee, said in a statement on Tuesday night, adding that the strike would encompass protests against Israeli forces.

The Israeli army launched a large-scale attack on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank on Tuesday afternoon, killing six men and injuring 26 others with live ammunition, including three who remain in critical condition.

Reporting from Jenin, Al Jazeera’s Sameer Abu Shammala said “commercial stores are closed, movement is very weak … There is a state of anger, a sense of overload in the Palestinian street”.

On Tuesday night, thousands of Palestinians emerged across the occupied West Bank in protest.

“The protests were in response to calls by the Lions’ Den armed group in Nablus – to express the anger of the Palestinian street,” said Abu Shammala.

Five of the slain men were residents of the Jenin refugee camp: Mohammad Wael Ghazzawi, 26; Tareq Natour, 27; Ziad Zirini, 29; Mutasem Sabbagh, 22 and Mohammad Khlouf, 22.

Kharousheh, the other killed man, was a leader in the armed wing of the Gaza-based Hamas movement, the al-Qassam Brigades.

He was staying at a home in the Jenin refugee camp along with other fighters when Israeli forces raided the camp on Tuesday and besieged them inside the house, before attacking it with rockets and killing them.

Tuesday’s raid was the latest Israeli assault targeting Palestinian fighters in the occupied West Bank, which have also killed civilians.

An Israeli raid in late January in Jenin killed 10 Palestinians, including an elderly woman. Then, on February 6, a raid in Jericho killed five, before another raid in Nablus on February 22 that killed 11.

Israeli forces have killed at least 68 Palestinians this year, while settlers have killed five Palestinians.

Thirteen Israelis and one Ukrainian have also been killed in Palestinian attacks.

Source: Al Jazeera