Palestine: Prophet's birthday and Christmas marred by violence

Palestine: Prophet's birthday and Christmas marred by violence
Israel killed four Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Thursday as they allegedly tried to carry out attacks on soldiers and settlers, as violence triggered by relentless occupation continues.
3 min read
24 December, 2015
Despite Israeli violence, Palestinians celebrated the anniversary of the birthday of Prophet Mohammad Wednesday [Anadolu]

Four Palestinians were killed seperately on Thursday by Israeli occupation forces.

Israeli authorities said three carried out or attempted to carry out attacks against Israelis across the West Bank.

The men were identified as Mohammad Zahran, Iyad Duaisat and a third yet-unnamed Palestinian youth who had reportedly tried to ram Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near Occupied Jerusalem.

A fourth Palestinian was later killed in clashes with Israeli troops, according to a Palestinian hospital official.

The fourth Palestinian, who died in clashes with the Israeli military in the Qalandiya refugee camp in the West Bank, was hit in the head by live fire, according to Ahmad Bitawi, the director of Ramallah hospital.

The killings were the latest in a three month-long wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence and came as revelers were gathering in the West Bank city of Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations.

Israeli fire has killed 124 Palestinians, 85 of them said by Israel to be attackers and the remainder killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

Palestinian attacks have killed 20 Israelis and an American student, meanwhile.

On Wednesday, two Palestinian attackers were shot dead after they allegedly stabbed and killed an Israeli man. Another Israeli man died after he was apparently shot by Israeli police trying to subdue the attackers.

The Palestinians say the violence is rooted in frustrations stemming from nearly five decades of Israeli occupation.
Israel says the unrelenting violence is fanned by a Palestinian campaign of incitement.

The wave of violence was triggered by Israeli assaults on the sacred Muslim al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Also Thursday, police said they were investigating the "many serious offenses" seen in a video of extremist Jews aired Wednesday on Israeli Channel 10 TV.

The video purported to show a wedding attended by Jewish extremists last week, where revelers stabbed pictures of a Palestinian toddler killed in an arson attack earlier this year, danced with rifles belonging to the Israeli military and in one case, held a mock firebomb in the air.

The report said the people were friends of the suspects in the arson on the Palestinian home in July.

Christmas in Bethlehem

The mood in Bethlehem has been dampened by the three month-long wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence that shows no signs of relenting.

Marching bands and scout troops played festive music as hundreds of people began crowding into Manger Square Thursday, admiring the town's Christmas tree.

Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal led a procession from his Jerusalem headquarters into Bethlehem, passing through Israel's concrete separation barrier, which surrounds much of the town.

Israel built the barrier a decade ago, claiming it is designed to stop a wave of suicide bombings. Palestinians view the structure as a land grab that has stifled Bethlehem's economy.

In Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Christmas this year comes at a very difficult period during which the Palestinian people are in "dire need for protection" from Israeli settlers and violations by the occupation.

Abbas, in his annual Christmas address, said the Israeli government continues to reinforce its apartheid system, stepping up measures to undermine the two-state solution, as he said.

Abbas called on the international community to end Israel's attempts to turn a difficult but solvable political conflict into an impossible religious war, as he put it.