Two Palestinian teenagers were killed during clashes with the IDF near Ramallah on Thursday as they and others marked Nakba (Catastrophe) Day – the 66th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.
The Palestinian Authority leadership said it was considering halting security coordination with Israel in response to the deaths, a Palestinian security source told the Maan news agency.
The source accused Israel of escalating the situation by firing live ammunition at protesters.
A PA official in Ramallah refused to comment on the report.
Muhammad Abu Daher and Nadim Siam, both 17, were fatally shot when scores of Palestinians attacked IDF soldiers with stones at a protest near the Ofer Prison, located between Ramallah and the Givat Ze’ev settlement. Both were from villages in the Ramallah area – Abu Daher from Abu Shkheidem, and Siam from Mazra’a a-Sharkiya.
A third teenager, whose identity was not revealed, was seriously wounded during the confrontation, eyewitnesses said.
Palestinians and Israeli left-wing activists said the two teenagers were shot with live ammunition, something soldiers are supposed to use only when their lives are in danger.
The IDF denied the allegation and insisted that only rubber bullets were used.
Military sources said 150 Palestinians who had gathered to mark Nakba Day threw firebombs and rocks at soldiers and border policemen, and rolled burning tires at them.
“The rioting was very serious,” an army source said. “This was a very aggressive attack on security personnel. We are examining the incident.”
By evening, most of the rioters had dispersed, though a handful remained.
Palestinians marked Nakba Day with marches and rallies in all the major cities of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Sirens went off for 66 seconds in many areas of the West Bank, one for each year since Israel was established.
The main rally was held in downtown Ramallah, where some 2,000 Palestinians gathered.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in a televised speech, said there would be no peace without the creation of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
“After 66 years of the Nakba, we have proved – and will prove – the restoration of Palestine to the geographic map, an independent and sovereign state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Abbas said.
“Palestine has come to the top of the agenda of the world and its leaders – not as a refugee issue, but as a national liberation cause and independence,” he added.
Abbas added that the time had come for Israeli leaders to “understand that the Palestinians have no other homeland than Palestine,” and that they are “living in the mentality of the past and closing the door to the two-state solution.”
Israel’s policies will lead to the creation of a binational state or a “racist apartheid regime,” he said.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.