- Several US embassies across the Middle East have issued warnings of potentially violent protests.
- President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has heightened tensions across the region.
- Palestinian leaders have called for “three days of rage” around the world, and US Marine units are on-call for all embassies.
Ziad Abu Ein, the PA’s settlements minister, dies after altercation with IDF soldiers in West Bank; Palestinian reports say he was struck by a soldier’s gun in the chest and collapsed; Abbas calls event ‘barbaric’.
Ziad Abu Ein, the Palestinian Authority’s settlement minister, collapsed and died after he was reportedly struck by an IDF soldier in Turmus Iya in the West Bank Wednesday.
Palestinian reports said he was struck by a soldier’s gun in the chest and collapsed. He was then taken to the hospital in Ramallah, where he died.
Abu Ein was ill and it is possible his illness played a role in his eventual death; it was reported he suffered from diabetes. The circumstances of the event are still unclear.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded to the death, which he called “barbaric,” saying that “We will take the necessary steps after we learn the results of the investigation into his death’s circumstances.” He called for a three-day mourning period throughout the PA.
Riyad Al-Maliki, the Palestinian foreign minister said that “Israel will pay” for the “murder” of Abu Ein.
Abu Ein taken to hospital (Photo: Reut Mor)
Hamas also responded to the report, saying it “mourned” his death, and called for the Palestinians to end their cooperation with Israel in response.
Mahmoud Aloul, a leading member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement, said he and Abu Ein had been among dozens of protesters carrying olive tree saplings during a protest against land confiscations when Israeli troops fired tear gas at them and later beat some of the participants with rifle butts.
Abu Ein was born in 1959, and was first arrested for security-related offenses at the age of 18, for only a short period. In 1979, he was accused of belonging to a cell that planted a bomb in Tiberias that exploded and killed two people, including 16-year-old Israeli Boaz Lahav.
He was extradited to Israel from the United States two years later and received a life sentence, but was released in the 1985 Jibril prisoner exchange, and never admitted to the charges.
He was arrested again a few times, mostly preventive administrative arrests, as he rose through the ranks of Fatah and was a member of the movement’s revolutionary council.
In 2006, he became deputy minister of prisoner affairs, and held the position until the creation of the Palestinian unity government in 2014, when he was made chief of the authority for the border fence, settlements, and people’s resistance – a role mirroring the rank of minister.
Violent clashes occurred overnight between Jewish and Palestinian residents in the Shilo area. The clashes occurred after the settlers claimed that Palestinians had stolen a mare, while the Palestinians said the settlers threw stones at cars and destroyed olive trees. IDF forces were brought in to calm the dispute.
Following the clashes, the council heads of several Palestinian villages in the West Bank as well as the Yesh Din organization petitioned Israel’s High Court to evacuate a nearby Jewish settlement, saying that it “serves as a center of illegal activity with the goal of expelling Palestinians from their land.”
Police suspect nationalistic motives; PA source says teenager was burned alive.
In a dramatic development, it was revealed Sunday that Israeli police arrested six suspects in the murder of a Palestinian teen.
Police suspect that the motive behind the murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, whose body was found in the Jerusalem Forest on Wednesday, was nationalistic, suggesting the perpetrators were Jewish extremists.
Police have been investigating various avenues in the teen’s death, including criminal or personal motives. But an official told the Associated Press on Sunday that evidence points toward Jewish extremists.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.
According to the Abu Khdeir family, they have not received any official notification from the police concerning the arrest of suspects in the murder – even though the police had promised the family they would be the first to know of any developments.
Sair Abu Khdeir, the murdered teen’s uncle, said police and security forces may have been surprised at the identity of the suspects, “but not us. We know what happened. Now I want the Israeli public to know and to see what happened to Mohammed. The killers were influenced by all those who called for revenge.”
On Saturday, Palestinian Attorney General Muhammad Abd al-Ghani Uweili was quoted as saying that that a preliminary autopsy report showed soot in the victim’s lungs and respiratory tract, indicating he was alive and breathing while he was being burned.
Israeli police say the circumstances behind Abu Khdeir’s killing remain unclear, but Palestinians believe he was kidnapped and killed by right-wing Israelis in revenge for the murder of three Israeli youths in the West Bank last month.
Adding to the tensions, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have stepped up rocket attacks on southern Israel, drawing Israeli airstrikes in retaliation. At midday Sunday, militants fired nine more rockets into Israel, the military said. Overnight, Israel had carried out airstrikes on 10 sites in Gaza.
Protests spread over the weekend from Jerusalem to Arab towns in northern Israel, with hundreds of people throwing rocks and fire bombs at officers who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, according to Israeli police. Police said 22 Arab Israelis were arrested in clashes on Saturday.
Clashes mostly subsided by early Sunday, but the situation remained tense.
In East Jerusalem, home to the most violent protests over the teen’s death, Abu Khdeir’s mother, Suha, welcomed news of the arrests but said she had little faith in the Israeli justice system.
“I don’t have any peace in my heart. Even if they captured who they say killed my son,” she said. “They’re only going to ask them questions and then release them. What’s the point?”
“They need to treat them the way they treat us. They need to demolish their homes and round them up, the way they do it to our children,” she added.
In the West Bank, the army arrested a Palestinian in the city of Hebron. His family identified him as Hossam Dufesh. The army would not elaborate on the arrest, but Israeli forces have concentrated its search for the murderers of three Israeli teens in the Hebron area.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The Israeli navy seized a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday that was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied rockets made in Syria that were intended for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, the military said.
It said the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel Klos-C was boarded in international waters without resistance from its 17-strong crew, and would be escorted to the Israeli port of Eilat within days.
“It was a complex, covert operation,” military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said of the seizure some 1,000 miles from Israel.
Dozens of M302 rockets were found aboard the Klos-C, a weapon which could have struck deep into Israel from Gaza and would have significantly enhanced the firepower of Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas.
“The M302 in its most advanced model can strike over 100 miles, and if they would have reached Gaza, ultimately that would have meant millions of Israelis under threat,” said Lerner.
Israeli television footage showed what appeared to be marines inspecting a rocket on the floor of a ship hold, with cement bags labeled “Made in Israel” in English next to it.
Lerner said the rockets were flown from Syria to Iran, from which they were shipped first to Iraq and then toward Sudan. Had they reached the African coast, they would have probably been smuggled overland through Egypt to Gaza, he said.
Iran had orchestrated the shipment, Lerner said, describing the process as months in the making.
The maritime tracking site marine traffic.com showed the last position of the Klos C as the Oman Gulf on February 22.
Lerner said the crew came from a number of different countries and there was no immediate indication that they knew the nature of their cargo.