Funerals draw thousands in tense W. Bank

Funerals draw thousands in tense W. Bank

ANABTA, West Bank: Thousands of mourners turned out yesterday for the funerals of three Palestinians, including two teenagers killed by Israeli army gunfire in some of the worst violence in the occupied West Bank in years.

The upsurge in unrest was triggered on Tuesday by the death of Maysara Abu Hamdeya, a 64-year-old prisoner serving a life term in an Israeli jail and suffering from cancer.Palestinian officials accused Israel of delaying treatment for Hamdeya and gave him full military honors at a funeral yesterday in Hebron, where masked gunmen fired into the air as his body arrived at a mosque in the divided West Bank city.

In the wave of disturbances that followed his death, four Palestinian youths threw firebombs at an Israeli checkpoint near Tulkarm in the northern West Bank on Wednesday, the army said.Soldiers returned fire and killed two teenagers from the nearby town of Anabta — Amer Nassar, 17, and Naji Belbisi, 18.Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel’s use of lethal force showed that it wanted to “provoke chaos” in the Palestinian Territories and avoid any moves toward a peace deal.

The UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Israeli forces had killed nine Palestinians, most of them in clashes in the West Bank, so far this year, compared with three in the same period in 2012.The bodies of Nassar and Belbisi, their blood-stained faces clearly visible, were carried on stretchers through the packed streets of Anabta, held aloft by uniformed members of the Palestinian security forces.“O martyrs rest, rest.

We will continue the struggle,” the crowds chanted as the lifeless teenagers passed by.Israeli officials urged Palestinian leaders to push for calm, and dismissed suggestions that a third uprising, or Intifada, was brewing in the West Bank. Underscoring the potential for more violence, the Israeli army said that for a third straight day, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck southern Israel yesterday. No casualties or damage were reported. – ArabNews