West Bank Protests Grow Over Detainee Death, Fears of New Intifada

Israeli Police Shoot Protesters as Abbas Urges PA to Stay Out of It

by Jason Ditz, February 25, 2013

Massive protests against Israeli occupation forces continued today, with thousands of Palestinians taking to the streets of West Bank towns to protest the weekend death of a detainee tortured in Israeli custody.

The protests are doubly large because there were already significant rallies protesting the treatment of hunger striking detainees, and those rallies just grew when the announcement hit of the new death, of a man who signed a confession for throwing stones shortly before his death.

Israeli Civil Defense Minister Avi Dichter warned that the death could lead to a new intifada, as the previous two intifadas were the result of “a high number of dead during protests.” Israel has demanded the Palestinian Authority stop all protests.

But PA President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered his security forces, or at least the ones who aren’t striking because Israeli tax seizures mean they aren’t getting paid, to avoid getting drawn into the violence between protesters and Israeli troops, adding that he holds Israel responsible for the death and the protests were just a consequence of that.

The protests have turned ugly, with many clashes reported, and Israeli police firing live ammunition at the demonstrators, badly wounding at least one 15 year old.

The UN is calling for an independent investigation into the killing of the detainee, after Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour reported that the autopsy showed broken bones in his neck, spine, arms and legs, along with deep cuts in his shoulders. Israel insisted that the death was a result of a pre-existing heart condition and that the many bruises and breaks were just from Israeli medical personnel trying to revive him.

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