Activists protesting Palestinian woman’s death arrested


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli police arrested 11 activists demonstrating in front of the U.S. ambassador to Israel’s home against the death of a Palestinian woman who protested the West Bank security fence.

Jawaher Abu Rahma, 36, died on the morning of Jan. 1, hours after she inhaled tear gas at a demonstration near the West Bank village of Bilin. She reportedly died of complications from inhaling the tear gas. 

Palestinian protests, which are joined by Israelis and international activists, take place at the site every Friday. Abu Rahma reportedly had been attending the weekly protests for the last five years. Her brother, Bassem, was killed in April 2009 during a demonstration in the same area, after being hit in the chest with a tear gas canister as it released its contents. A second brother, Ashraf, was wounded several years ago after being shot during a demonstration against the security fence near the village of Naalin.

The activists demonstrating in front of Amb. James Cunningham’s Herzliya home were arrested early Sunday morning after throwing what has been described as either a tear gas canister or a gas grenade at the house. They reportedly were demonstrating against U.S. military aid to Israel being used to harm the Palestinians. 

Hundreds also demonstrated on Saturday night against Abu Rahma’s death in front of the Israel Defense Forces’ headquarters in Tel Aviv. Eight protestors were arrested.

The Palestinian Authority reportedly rejected an offer by Israel’s military to jointly investigate Abu Rahma’s death, as has been done in similar cases. The P.A. also refused to allow the IDF to review the woman’s medical file in order to determine the cause of death, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called Abu Rahma’s death a "war crime."
"We condemn this appalling crime by the Israeli army against participants in a peace-seeking protest. This is part of war crimes Israel carries out against our nation," he said. 

The IDF on Sunday released photos showing that the Dec. 31 demonstration at Bilin became violent, and thus required the use of tear gas, despite Palestinian claims that the protest was non-violent. The photos show Palestinians throwing rocks using large slingshots.

Also on Sunday, a Palestinian man, 21, was killed by Israeli troops after refusing to stop as he approached a West Bank checkpoint near Nablus. The man was carrying a glass bottle that soldiers believed he was planning to use to stab them. No soldiers were injured in the incident.

A Palestinian man was arrested on Jan. 1 after trying to stab two female soldiers near an army base in the West Bank.

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