Israeli security forces brace for Palestinian protests
Demonstrations expected across West Bank, East Jerusalem in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israel.
Palestinian protests, mainly over the issue of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, are expected to resume on Friday with both organized and spontaneous marches throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem, demonstrations in support of the prisoners are slated to take place Friday morning at the Old City’s Damascus Gate and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount. On Thursday, messages went sent to Palestinians’ cell phones urging all of them, and especially young people, to participate in the protests.
In the West Bank, the main focus of activity will be the weekly march in Bili’in. Hundreds of people are also expected to demonstrate near the village of Salfit. Confrontations with Israeli soldiers may erupt at checkpoints, especially the Qalandiyah checkpoint near Jerusalem and the checkpoint near the Ofer army base.
A demonstration is also planned in Hebron to commemorate the anniversary of Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of 29 Muslim worshippers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994. The demonstration was organized by the Committee to Protect Hebron, the Popular Campaign Against the Fence and the city’s left-wing politicians. The Palestinians will be joined by Jewish and Arab activists from the left-wing group Hithabrut-Tarabut.
“Hebron isn’t only subject to foreign occupation, but also to a racist regime of separation in the service of the settlers,” said Johayna Saifi of Hithabrut-Tarabut. “This separation regime expanded following the massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs and became even more severe after the outbreak of the second intifada [in 2000]. It makes the residents’ lives a living hell and paralyzes the heart of the city. At the same time, the city of Hebron – one of the most important economic centers in the territories – is strangled by a system of checkpoints that cuts it off from all its surroundings. In Hebron, apartheid rules, and we’re coming to the city in order to fight it.”
“It’s clear to us,” said Hisham Sharabati of the Committee to Protect Hebron, “that the settlers are the long arm of the occupation, and cooperation with them by the army and police isn’t accidental, it’s part of the process of settlement and dispossession.”
Over the past week, discontent in the West Bank had simmered into violence after a Palestinian detainee, Arafat Jaradat, died in Megiddo Prison on Saturday. According to Israel Jaradat died of a heart attack, but the Palestinians allege that he died of torture in the hand of Israeli security personnel.