Palestine on Strike After Jericho Raid

The Palestinian territories ground to a halt under a general strike Wednesday, called by all factions to protest against a massive Israeli army raid on a West Bank prison one day earlier.

Palestine on Strike After Jericho Raid

Businesses remained shuttered and schools closed across the Gaza Strip and West Bank, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The strike was ordered late Tuesday, March 14, during emergency talks in the Gaza Strip to protest Israel's raid on the Jericho jail to arrest the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Ahmad Saadat.

"The Palestinian factions called during an emergency meeting for a general strike across the Palestinian territories to condemn the seizure of Saadat, the Israeli aggression and the killing of Palestinians," a delegate said.

Two Palestinian security guards were killed and 26 others wounded, five of them critically in the Israeli assault of the Jericho jail in a bid to capture Saadat, four other PFLP members and wanted Fatah member Fuad Shubaki.

Israel holds the five PFLP members accused by the Jewish state of being responsible for the killing of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001. The PFLP claimed the assassination, saying it was to avenge the assassination of Saadat's predecessor in October 2001.

Saadat surrendered to the occupation troops after the day-long siege, which began just minutes after British and US monitors at the jail withdrew.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas left Strasbourg late Tuesday to return to the Palestinian territories as unrest flared after the Israeli raid.

His spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina warned that the situation "would reflect negatively on many things, on the truce (and) the negotiations" and charged that "Israel is committing a crime in Jericho".

US officials told Reuters Tuesday that Israel received advance word from the United States that foreign monitors were preparing to withdraw from the West Bank prison.

They said Washington had given Israel a copy of a March 8 letter it sent to Abbas saying monitors could be withdrawn at once unless security conditions were met.

Some Hostages Released

Swiss national Julien Grosclaude is seen after he was released.

A number of foreigners were kidnapped in the Gaza Strip and West Bank on Tuesday in a wave of attacks on foreign interests to protest against the Israeli military operation and perceived British and US collusion in the raid.

Two French women working for the medical charity Medecins du Monde (MDM) were freed Tuesday evening in the Gaza Strip.

"The two French workers with MDM have been freed. They are safe," a government official told AFP, without giving details.

Two Australians, an American and a Swiss employee of the International Committee of the Red Cross were also kidnapped but later released unharmed by their abductors.

Three foreign journalists, however, were being held hostage in the Gaza Strip for a second day by fighters from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Two French and a South Korean were also still in captivity "because the Palestinian Authority had not managed to protect Ahmed Saadat," the PFLP said.

More than two dozen foreign aid workers and journalists took refuge in the compound of the Palestinian Preventive Security agency in the Gaza Strip.

Islam strictly forbids kidnapping and killing innocent civilians.

UN Resolution

On the diplomatic landscape, Qatar urged the UN Security Council Tuesday to condemn the Israeli raid and oblige Tel Aviv to return all prisoners to Palestinian custody.

A draft statement by Qatari Ambassador Abdulaziz Al-Nasser would further call on Israel to withdraw all its forces from Jericho.

Council diplomats said the 15-nation council would discuss the draft behind closed doors Wednesday after Al-Nasser revised it overnight in response to council members' initial comments, diplomats told Reuters.

Palestinian UN Observer Riyad Mansour called on the council to "uphold international law" by supporting the Qatari measure. He said the Israeli raid grew out of "a desire to negate the Palestinian elections" won by Hamas.

But the text would almost certainly face a veto from the United States, Israel's closest ally, if brought to a vote in its current form, the diplomats said.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16