Palestine erupts against Trump visit and occupation

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AT LEAST 13 Palestinians were shot and injured – at least one seriously – during clashes with Israeli forces in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Monday afternoon.

According to witnesses and medical sources, clashes also broke out in Hebron. Israeli forces fired both live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets at the Palestinian protesters who were marching from Ramallah city to the Qalandiya military checkpoint in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners.

Among those injured was a young man who was hit with a live bullet in the abdomen and was evacuated to the Palestinian Medical Complex in Ramallah. Doctors there reported his condition as ‘moderate to serious’.

Four others were shot in the legs with live fire, and six were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets.

The Palestinian Red Crescent’s ambulance service set up a field clinic near the Qalandiya checkpoint to treat protesters and bystanders, dozens of whom whom were suffocating as Israeli soldiers showered the area with tear gas.

Witnesses said Israeli soldiers fired at the demonstrators from rooftops overlooking the main street. In response, the demonstrators pelted them with stones. In the village of Nabi Saleh, two Palestinian youths were injured with live ammunition during clashes that erupted with Israeli forces at the entrance to the village, after Israeli forces suppressed a solidarity march.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out in the Zif community in the southern occupied West Bank, after Israeli soldiers suppressed a peaceful march from a sit-in tent established in solidarity with the prison hunger strike. Israeli forces shot live fire into the air and fired tear gas canisters at protesters, causing at least two Palestinians to suffer tear gas inhalation.

Meanwhile, clashes erupted between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces at the Bab al-Zawiya area of Hebron city, where Palestinians threw rocks at the Israeli military checkpoint at the entrance to al-Shuhada Street, while Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians – with no injuries reported.

The clashes came as Palestinians observed a general strike across the Palestinian territory in support of the mass hunger strike, and also to express opposition to US President Trump who arrived in Israel on Monday for a two-day visit that included a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem yesterday.

A ‘vehicles march’ was also launched in Hebron on Monday, where Palestinians drove through the streets in solidarity with the over 1,600 Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike in Israeli prisons since April 17. The general strike shut down businesses and institutions throughout the territory.

Palestinian activists also blocked roads to prevent commuters from accessing Ramallah. The media committee for the Freedom and Dignity of the hunger strike said in a statement that it is ‘the first time since the First Palestinian Intifada (1987-1993) that a general strike has been observed in the West Bank, and urged Palestinians to join one of the many support sit-ins.

The statement also called on Palestinians to undertake a 12-hour ‘hunger strike’, and to fast between 10.00am to 10.00pm on Monday in solidarity with the hunger-striking prisoners, who are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention – (imprisonment without charge or trial).

The Higher Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel held a meeting at Tayibe city hall, and stressed that all Israeli Palestinian citizens should also join the general strike, with the exception of schools and emergency services.

Meanwhile, schools, banks, and public transport in the occupied West Bank shut down, though hospitals and emergency services remained open. On Monday morning, Palestinian activists blocked off all roads leading to the West Bank cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh with large rocks and burning tyres to ensure people adhered to the general strike.

In Ramallah all stores, shops, and factories remained closed and the streets were almost empty.

Young men were stopping all vehicles attempting to travel into Ramallah and told them to return to their homes. International diplomats and employees of international organisations who live on the outskirts of Ramallah, including consuls, were unable to reach their work places.

The Ramallah-Jerusalem road was blocked at the Qalandia and al-Amari refugee camps. The main highway between Ramallah and Nablus was also closed, as locals blocked a section near al-Jalazun refugee camp in northern Ramallah with skips and burning tyres.

The main road between Ramallah and nearby villages was also closed near the town of Beituniya. And the road connecting Ramallah and the villages of Bani Zeid al-Gharbiyya and Bani Zeid al-Sharqiyya was blocked, as were the roads between Ramallah and all villages in the northern Ramallah district, including to the village of Biddu. Vehicles were not allowed to move.

In northwest Jerusalem, the main road in the village of al-Jib was closed. The committee for the Freedom and Dignity also called for a ‘Day of Rage’ yesterday as US President Trump met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. Palestinian factions urged the public to join rallies to express their rejection of the resumption of ‘peace talks’ between the Palestinian Authority and Israel under US sponsorship. Protests demanding that Israel meets the hunger strikers’ demands have previously erupted into violent clashes since the strike began over two months ago.

• Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers and fishermen in three separate incidents on Monday morning in the besieged Gaza Strip, local sources said, no injuries have been reported.

Israeli soldiers stationed at the Kissufim military post northeast of Khan Yunis in Gaza opened fire on Palestinian farmers tending their land on the Palestinian side of the border fence.

And troops from the Abu Muteibeiq military post opened fire on Palestinian farmland east of al-Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza. Meanwhile, Israeli army gunboats fired on Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, forcing them back to shore.

An Israeli army spokesperson claimed that after the fishing boat ‘deviated from the designated fishing zone,’ Israeli forces first fired warning shots into the air, and then directly at the vessel after it continued sailing. Finally, the boat ‘returned to the fishing zone,’ she said, reporting that no one was injured.

The Israeli army regularly detains and opens fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen, shepherds, and farmers along the border areas if they approach the unilaterally declared buffer zone. Last week, Israeli forces shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian fisherman Nuhammad Majid Bakr off Gaza’s coast according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).

PCHR wrote in a statement: ‘This indicates a new crime committed by the Israeli forces though none of the fishermen posed any threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers. This emphasises continuation of Israel’s policy to target the fishermen and their safety and deny them free sailing within the allowed fishing area.

Under Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007, Palestinian fishermen have been required to work within a limited ‘designated fishing zone’, the exact limits of which are decided by the Israeli authorities and have often changed. The al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights has reported that since the beginning of the year, Israel has seized five fishing boats, detained 14 Palestinian fishermen, shot and injured four, and killed one other, who drowned after Israeli forces sank his boat.

• The condition of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, who have been on hunger strike for 38 days now, is deteriorating and needs effective medical attention to save their lives, especially after transferring many of them to hospitals, the Media Committee of the strike said on Monday.

It said the prisons’ administration is deliberately isolating them from the outside world and obstructing their families and human rights organisations from finding out about their health condition. The committee also said, according to the striking detainees, that the field clinics the Israel prisons administration had established before the strike now lack basic medical equipment.

Moreover, detainees were told they would be treated – if they ended their strike. The media committee added that the prisons’ administration has recently transferred all striking detainees to prisons close to hospitals, following their worsening health.

The media committee of the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society called on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the World Health Organisation and Physicians for Human Rights to compel the occupation government to prevent a real catastrophe in prisons by agreeing to the prisoners’ demands, and to demand precise information about their health conditions.