Mass funerals in Chevron and Tulkarm supplied the fuel for more violent demonstrations on Thursday as thousands turned out to mourn their dead and throw stones at Israeli security forces.
Although similar rioting on late Wednesday led to the deaths of two of those Palestinians being buried, IDF units succeeded in quelling Thursday’s disturbances with tear gas, without resorting to live fire.
No major injuries were reported on either side, though a policeman was lightly wounded in Ramallah, according to sources. Stones were also thrown at security forces near the Palestinian village of Beit Omar and at the Jewish communities of Migdal Oz and Efrat.
In Chevron, Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, a terrorist prisoner who died earlier this week from cancer, was buried. In Tulkarm, two teenagers, Amer Nassar and Naji Belbisi, who were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers responding to their firebomb attack, were buried.
An IDF investigation found that the soldiers, serving in the chareidi Netzach Yehudah battalion, acted in accordance with established protocols. About 30 minutes before the shooting, the IDF unit spotted four men with firebombs approaching their base.
The Palestinians hurled one of the firebombs at the soldiers, who fired back. One of the terrorists was killed on the spot, a second during a chase.
A senior official with the IDF Central Command rejected Palestinian claims that the teenagers were innocent victims. He told Ynet, “The attack on the post was planned; this post had been attacked before. The force was in danger during the chase and therefore opened fire. The incident lasted only a few seconds and we have documentation of the events.”
Early Thursday, Gaza terrorists fired several rockets toward Israel, though b’chasdei Shamayim, only one exploded in Israel, causing no injuries, the IDF said. The other projectiles exploded prematurely inside Gaza. No group claimed responsibility.
The eruptions come just days ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival for a round of peacemaking, and will presumably reduce his chances of success.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for the deaths and accused it of trying to divert attention from the impasse in the peace process.
“It seems that Israel wants to spark chaos in the Palestinian territories,” he said. “From the beginning, we have said we want stability and calm. Despite that, Israel on every occasion is using lethal force against peaceful young protesters, and peaceful demonstrations are being suppressed with the power of weapons. This is not acceptable at all.”
Members of Fatah’s armed wing, Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, told reporters in Chevron on Thursday that they are waiting for a “green light” from Abbas to “respond to Israeli crimes,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
But the threat of a third intifada, or Palestinian uprising, much talked about in recent months, was dismissed by senior defense official Amos Gilad on Israel Radio.
“The term ‘third intifada’ is meant to describe a general breakdown and uprising… There are no powers there pushing for a third intifada or general uprising,” he said.
Israeli prisons have increased security for the duration of a three-day hunger strike in protest over the death of a Palestinian inmate from cancer. A Prisons Service spokesman characterized it not as a hunger strike but rather as a “meal refusal.”
Meanwhile, the IDF deployed an Iron Dome battery outside Eilat on Wednesday evening. It was moved there in anticipation of possible rocket fire from Sinai.