Cries for revenge rang out as thousands of Palestinians thronged Tuesday to the funeral of the highest-ranking Palestinian killed by Israel since the start of the Intifada 11 months ago.
Masked pallbearers bore the body of 63-year-old Abu Ali Mustafa (Mustafa Zabri), the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), through the streets of the West Bank city of Ramallah, while masked gunmen - some standing close to Palestinian dignitaries in the crowd of mourners - fired their rifles into the air.
"Abu Ali Mustafa, your blood will not be wasted!" the crowd chanted.
Marching in the Ramallah funeral procession were the leaders of Palestinian factions that have been riven by rivalries in the past. The mourners included several of Arafat's Cabinet ministers, members of the Palestinian legislature, as well as high-ranking representatives of radical groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Mustafa's 55-year-old widow, Khitam, had to be supported by two other women as she collapsed while standing over the body.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat was at his Gaza headquarters and did not attend either the Ramallah burial or a symbolic funeral held in Gaza City. Aides said he would spend much of the afternoon receiving condolence calls, as he did in the hours after the killing.
Shops and businesses were shuttered tight as merchants observed a commercial strike in the territories. Arafat declared three days of mourning for Mustafa.
Protests in Jordan Syria and LebanonPalestinian refugees staged angry demonstrations in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon Tuesday to protest the killing of Zabri.
Syria's largest Palestinian refugee camp, al-Yarmouk, 8 kilometers (5 miles) south of Damascus, ground to a standstill as thousands staged a one-day strike in mourning
In Jordan's Baqaa Camp, some 27 kilometers (17 miles) north of the capital Amman, more than 1,500 angry Palestinians protested the killing and urged the Jordanian government to sever ties it forged with Israel under a 1994 peace treaty.
"No to an [Israeli] embassy and no to an [Israeli] ambassador in Jordan," chanted the crowd as they marched through Baqaa's dusty streets, the largest among 13 UN-run Palestinian refugee settlements in the kingdom.
The protesters also urged Arab leaders to open the borders with Israel to allow Palestinian fighters to launch attacks against Israel.
In Amman, the Palestinian mission set up a colorful tent for Mustafa's mourners, while members of 13 Jordanian unions staged a 90-minute strike in a symbolic protest of his killing.
In Lebanon, several thousand Palestinians attended a symbolic funeral for Mustafa at the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp on the outskirts of the southern port city of Sidon, calling for revenge against Israeli and U.S. interests in the Middle East.
Supporters of Mustafa's hard-line Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine carried a coffin draped in a Palestinian flag and bearing a portrait of their slain leader.
PFLP prepares to elect successor to assassinated leaderAccording to reports published in the London-based Arabic daily Al Hayat out of Damascus, the PFLP is to hold an emergency meeting to elect a successor to Mustafa.
Sources in the PFLP said that there were three main candidates for the position: Maher Al-Taher, Jamil Majlawi and Abed A-Rahim Maloakh. All three are members of the party's political wing and are based in Damascus where the PFLP has its headquarters.
This will be the second leadership change in two years. Party founder George Habash resigned two years ago due to an illness.
Taher called on other Palestinian organizations Tuesday to avenge Mustafa's death, including attacks on American targets. Speaking at a news conference, Taher said that "the PFLP will react to this crime. Israel will pay a high price. We call on the Arab nation to hit the interests of the Americans."