Israeli soldiers kill unarmed Palestinian in West Bank

Tensions have recently heightened in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2019
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Israeli soldiers kill unarmed Palestinian in West Bank

  • Jordan’s king vows to keep protecting holy sites in Jerusalem, calling it ‘red line’ for his country
  • The official said Israeli troops in the adjacent village of Al-Khader fired at a car and wounded the driver the previous night

RAMALLAH, West Bank: The governor of the West Bank city of Bethlehem said on Thursday that Israeli soldiers shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian man who was trying to aid another near the city.

Gov. Kamel Hmeid said Israeli troops in the adjacent village of Al-Khader fired at a car and wounded the driver late on Wednesday night. 

He said Ahmad Manasra was in the car behind and got out of his vehicle to help the wounded man, who was shot in the abdomen. As Manasra was returning to his car, the Israeli soldiers shot and killed him, he said.

“This is a summary execution and Israel bears the full responsivity for this crime,” Hmeid said.

The Israeli military said a soldier stationed at a military post near Bethlehem identified rocks being thrown at Israeli vehicles and in response fired his weapon. The military said it was investigating the incident, which comes amid heightened tensions in the West Bank.

Wabeb Manasrah, a cousin of the slain Palestinian, confirmed the governor’s account. 

He said they were trying to help the wounded man and that his cousin was going to drive his wife and children away when he was gunned down.

“There were no clashes, no stone throwing, nothing at all,” he said. “I don’t know why they shot him.”

On Wednesday, the Israeli military said it shot and killed two Palestinians who had attacked troops in the West Bank city of Nablus. 

This followed the killing of a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a weekend stabbing and shooting attack that left two Israelis dead near a West Bank settlement. 

The military said 19-year-old Omar Abu Leila was fatally shot when he opened fire on soldiers trying to arrest him after an intensive two-day manhunt.

Election campaign

The uptick in West Bank violence comes as Israel is currently in the midst of an election campaign and Egypt is trying to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Since 2015, Palestinians have killed over 50 Israelis in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks in the West Bank. Israeli forces have killed more than 260 Palestinians in that same period. 

Amid fresh Israeli violence, Jordan’s King Abdullah II vowed to keep protecting Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, calling it a “red line” for his country.

King Abdullah said, during a visit to the Zarqa governorate outside Amman, that he was under pressure to alter his country’s historic role as custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites but that he would not.

Abdullah said: “I will never change my position toward Jerusalem in my life.” He added that “all my people are with me.”

He did not specify what kind of pressure he was encountering.

A Jordanian-appointed council oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

It claims exclusive authority over the Noble Sanctuary, or Temple Mount, compound and says it is not subject to Israeli jurisdiction. Tensions often escalate at the site.


Sudan holds ‘million-strong’ protest march

Updated 3 min 19 sec ago
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Sudan holds ‘million-strong’ protest march

KHARTOUM: Sudanese protesters began gathering for a “million-strong” march Thursday to turn up the heat on the ruling military council after three of its members resigned following talks on handing over power.
The rally outside the army headquarters comes after the military rulers and protest leaders agreed to set up a joint committee, to chart the way forward two weeks after the ouster of veteran president Omar Al-Bashir.
“We call on our people, who have been demanding a transitional civilian rule, to participate in the million-strong march,” said the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the umbrella group leading the protests.
“Our sit-in will continue to protect our revolution and to ensure that all our demands are achieved,” the alliance said in a statement.
As Thursday’s protest got underway, witnesses in downtown Khartoum said crowds of protesters gathered outside the Egyptian consulate and embassy which were surrounded by riot police.
Several people held banners calling on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi not to “interfere in our affairs,” after Cairo hosted a summit of African leaders calling for more time for a transition to civilian rule in Sudan.
Others held signs reading “no to miliary rulers,” while across the city demonstrators began arriving at the army headquarters from the states of Jazeera and White Nile.
The planned mass march follows a late-night meeting between the military council and leaders of the protest movement’s umbrella group.
“We have an agreement on most demands presented in the document of the Alliance for Freedom and Change,” Lt. Gen. Shamseddine Kabbashi, spokesman of the military council, told reporters afterwards.
He did not elaborate on the key demand of handing power to a civilian government, but said there “were no big disputes.”
The Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded months of protests against Bashir, described the meeting as a step toward “confidence-building.”
“Both sides agreed on the importance of joint cooperation to steer the country toward peace and stability,” the SPA said Thursday.
Writing on Twitter, the association said a “joint committee” was being set up to “discuss outstanding disputes” as part of efforts to reach a “comprehensive agreement.”
After returning from the protest site on Thursday, activist Ahmed Najdi said he was expecting “a joint military-civilian sovereign council, which I think is the middle path and most protesters would agree to that.”
Wednesday’s meeting was followed by the military council announcing three members of the ruling body had stepped down after demands from protesters.
They were Lt. Gen. Omar Zain Al-Abdin, Lt. Gen. Jalaluddin Al-Sheikh and Lt. Gen. Al-Tayieb Babikir.
The late night developments came as Siddiq Farouk, one of the leaders of the protests, said the demonstrators were also preparing for a general strike if the military council refuses to hand power to a civilian administration.
The council, led by General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan since his predecessor quit after barely 24 hours in the post, says it has assumed power for a two-year transitional period.
Despite Bashir’s fall, demonstrators have kept up their encampment outside the military headquarters to press their demands.
For the first time, Sudanese judges said they would join the sit-in on Thursday “to support change and for an independent judiciary.”
Protesters in Khartoum were joined Wednesday by hundreds of demonstrators from the central town of Madani, the second major batch of new arrivals from outside the capital in as many days.
“Revolutionaries from Madani want civilian rule,” they chanted, according to witnesses.
The previous day a train laden with demonstrators rolled from Atbara, where protests began on December 19 against a decision by Bashir’s government to triple bread prices.
They swiftly turned into nationwide rallies against his rule and that of the military council that took his place.
The protesters have found support in Washington, which has backed their call for civilian rule.
“We support the legitimate demand of the people of Sudan for a civilian-led government, and we are here to urge and to encourage parties to work together to advance that agenda as soon as possible,” State Department official Makila James told AFP on Tuesday.