One week before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to present the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations Security Council, Palestinians around the West Bank marched against the Israeli wall. The Israeli army brought in reinforcements to deal with increases in protests, but a source in the army said it would not call up its reserves yet.
Protest marches without incident were reported in the West Bank villages of Bil’in, Ni’lin, al-Nabi Saleh, al-Walajeh, and al-Ma’sara. In a rare event in the village of Qusra near Nablus in the northern West Bank, Palestinians arrested a group of nine Israeli settlers who they claim were trying to infiltrate the village.
Palestinian official news wire Wafa reported on Friday afternoon that settlers first opened fire on the Qusra villagers, wounding one, before they were captured. The wounded man, Fathullah Abu Rayda, was taken to a Nablus-area hospital.
As of press time, the status of the nine captured settlers was unknown. Israeli forces, including 15 vehicles, had blocked the road from the village of Qusra to Jaloud, a village to the southwest. Immediately to the northeast of Qusra is the settlement of Migdalim.
The Qusra mosque was torched and spray painted in an apparent “price tag” attack two weeks ago, after the Israeli army destroyed part of the illegal settlement of Migron. Settlers often vandalize and destroy Palestinian buildings to protest Israeli demolitions, calling the attacks “price tags” of a settlement policy they deem too moderate. EU High Representative Catherine Ashton condemned the attack, in which “Muhammad was a pig” was sprayed on the side of the mosque.
Both Palestinian and Israeli governments say they are trying to avoid an escalation of events leading up to September 23, when the Palestinian statehood bid will come before the UN. After its announcement of reinforcements, the Israeli army said it believed Palestinian security forces could contain escalations, but it was taking precautions.PNN - Palestine News Network