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Discord in East Jerusalem over Israeli fleet raid
Published Monday 31/05/2010 (updated) 01/06/2010 13:39
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Bethlehem – Ma'an – Clashes broke out in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Monday between Palestinian residents and patrolling Israeli border guards, as rallies were held in Palestinian villages in Israel, as well as in Gaza, terming the Israeli raid on the Freedom Flotilla a war crime.

Slight injuries were reported as a result of the confrontations, which coincided with a meeting of national and Islamic representatives in Jerusalem to discuss the next stage in protest and action, said senior Fatah official Hatem Abdul Qader.

Palestinian shopkeepers in the Old City have shut down business in protest.

President Mahmoud Abbas declared three-day mourning in Palestine with flags lowered to half-mast, while in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh declared a general strike in response to the Israeli attack on Freedom Flotilla on Monday morning.

Palestinians in Israel protest

Dozens of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship demonstrated in Nazareth, northern Israel, waving banners calling for the trial of Israeli leaders and perpetrators of the deaths on board the aid convoy.

Members of all Palestinian political factions attended the rally, which are set to be held throughout Palestinian villages in Israel.

Banners describing Israel as "the government of massacres" and a "terrorist government" and participants readily termed the raid and killing of international peace activists on board the Freedom Fleet a war crime. "The killing of freedom seekers is a terrorist crime," one banner read.

Five of those killed by Israeli forces on the ship were identified as Palestinians from Haifa.

Gaza prisoners' society marches

In Gaza, Palestinian prisoners' parents launched a mass protest from the International Red Cross headquarters in Gaza City toward the Palestinian Legislative Council building, organized by the National Committee for Prisoners and the Wa'ed organization.

Baha Ad-Din Al-Madhun, the general coordinator of the National Committee, said Israeli authorities were fully responsible for the lives of the passengers on board the 8000 ship, which came in solidarity with prisoner, a statement read, which was named for the number Palestinian detainees in Israeli custody.

Al-Madhun said the raid on one of the boats was "a new war crime added to the list of Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, which was an attempt to make the international community ignorant of the suffering in Gaza by barring parliamentarians on board from discovering what Israel is doing to Palestinian prisoners."

The national committee made an urgent appeal to the international community to save the lives of the activists "who bring with them a humanitarian message."

Day of Freedom

A Gaza-wide national day called Freedom Day to commemorate the death of Flotilla activists was announced, with Haniyeh saying "The day is to mourn the martyrs of the flotilla," in a statement, naming 31 May Freedom Day and calling on the UN Security Council to convene an emergency session to take action on what he called a crime in international waters.

Every solidarity activist on board the ships will be awarded a badge of honor from the Gaza government, Haniyeh said, calling each of those killed by Israeli forces a "martyr for Palestine."

He called on Palestinians world wide to go out and demonstrate.

"Four years are enough and the Arab world is watching," Haniyeh said, calling on the PA to terminate proximity talks with Israel in light of the attack on the Flotilla, saying "it is not reasonable to continue talks in light of this crime."

Rights organization condemns deaths

Rights organization in Gaza, Al-Mezan, issued a statement calling on the international community to support the Flotilla, and put pressure on Israel to respect its humanitarian mission.

"The Israeli position, as an existing occupying power, towards the "Freedom Fleet" exposes a deep contradiction in its allegation that the Gaza Strip is no longer an occupied territory and Israel is not responsible for the humanitarian and human rights conditions for the Strip’s population. Israel has used this allegation in the face of charges of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during its last aggression on the Gaza Strip. Israel insists that the last war was against an entity that was not under its control and threatened its security," a statement said.

The statement further issued a call "on the international community to take effective steps to ensure the safety of the civilian solidarity activists who are on their way to the Gaza Strip. It also calls the international community to support the solidarity activists’ calls to end the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, which continues to cause grave violations of human rights that amount to crimes against humanity."

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