Thousands gather in Ramallah to cheer return of Abbas

Rally comes after PA president submits statehood request in NY; Palestinians report IDF preventing buses from arriving.

September 25, 2011 14:50
2 minute read.
Palestinian boy at rally for Abbas in Ramallah

Palestinian boy at rally 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah on Sunday to celebrate the return of PA President Mahmoud Abbas from his visit to New York, where he addressed the UN General Assembly and submitted a request for recognition of Palestine as a full member state in the world body.

Public employees were granted permission to leave work at 1 p.m. in order to take part in the festivities. Abbas was expected to arrive in Ramallah from Jordan sometime before 3:30 p.m., Channel 10 reported.

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Those at the rally waved PLO flags and held signs pledging loyalty to the PA president, Israel Radio reported.

Official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that IDF forces detained dozens of buses carrying people to the rally in Ramallah.

According to the report, the IDF set up checkpoints between Nablus and Ramallah in order to prevent participation in the events.

The report quoted witnesses as saying that bus drivers were attempting to take alternate routes to reach Ramallah.

The IDF was gearing up for an escalation in violent demonstrations in the West Bank this week amid concern that Abbas’s speech at the United Nations on Friday would motivate the public to increase their “resistance.”

“We see calls for escalation on the Palestinian street and expect more stone throwing over the coming days,” a senior IDF officer said. On Sunday, the Central Command was scheduled to review its current deployment and depending on developments, consider the possible release of several units from active duty in the West Bank to return to training.

On Friday, IDF troops shot and killed a Palestinian demonstrator outside the village of Qusra in the West Bank, marking the first casualty since riots began earlier this week in conjunction with the PA’s bid for statehood at the UN.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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