Two Palestinian teens were killed in clashes with the IDF near Tulkarm in the West Bank late Wednesday night and another was arrested, the IDF confirmed.
Security forces were already on high alert for violence that was expected to break out in the West Bank on Thursday following the Hebron funeral for Palestinian prisoner Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh, 63, who died of esophageal cancer in Soroka University Medical Center on Tuesday.
Two separate autopsies by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority found that Hamdiyeh's death was caused by cancer, but that did not quell Palestinian anger at Israel. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of medical negligence in his death.
Hamdiyeh was jailed in 2002 and given a life sentence for his role in attempting to bomb the Caffit restaurant in Jerusalem’s German Colony.
Hamdiyeh was hailed as a martyr and a hero, and violence immediately broke out in the West Bank Tuesday and continued Wednesday.
According to the IDF, Palestinians attacked a guard station near Tulkarm in the West Bank village of Anabda late Wednesday night and threw Molotov cocktails at it. Soldiers responded with live fire. The IDF confirmed both deaths.
The soldiers targeted by the firebombing felt their lives to be at risk before using live fire, a senior defense source told The Jerusalem Post.
The remains of seven Molotov cocktails were found at the scene.
According to Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem three Palestinian teenagers had gone to attack the guard towers, and were able to get fairly close to it, when the IDF shot at them.
Amer Nassar, 17, was immediately identified as one of the victims, and his photograph was quickly circulated on Twitter and Facebook, along with a video of mourners marching his body through the streets.
A second teen was wounded, but the third teen was initially missing, according to Michael. His body was found only hours later near the guard tower, Michaeli said. She identified him as Nagi Biblisi, 18.
The IDF so far, has confirmed only one death from IDF fire as a result of the TulKarem incident.
Earlier on Wednesday 200 Palestinians rioted in Hebron, where they threw stones and scores of Molotov cocktails at IDF forces near the police checkpoint, which is often the flashpoint for such violence.
An IDF officer was lightly wounded.
Stones were also thrown at security forces near the Palestinian village of Beit Omar and the settlements of Migdal Oz and Efrat.
In Nablus, Palestinians held a protest march that ended near the Hawara checkpoint, where they clashed with the IDF, which reported that stones were thrown at its soldiers. Palestinians also declared a commercial strike, closing their shops in the cities of Hebron, Nablus and in east Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails declared a three-day hunger strike, in solidarity with Hamdiyeh.
Prisons Service spokesman Sivan Weitzman said Wednesday that a total of 4,620 security prisoners – nearly all of those held in Israel’s prisons – sent back all three of their meals on Wednesday, in a show of solidarity.
As usual in such cases, Weitzman said that the Prisons Service does not see it as a hunger strike, rather a “meal refusal,” adding that she thinks it will probably only last up to three days, as is usually the case with such protests.
She added that the Prisons Service had deployed extra officers to the security blocks, in case the situation gets violent, and has gone on a higher level of readiness, due to the possibility of worsening protests.
Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said Wednesday that he was worried by continued tensions over unresolved prisoner issues.
Separately, in the West Bank, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli vehicles, damaging two buses near Nablus and a car near the village of Halhoul.