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Demonstration held for and against Palestinian statehood

09-21-2011 08:26 BJT

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Fears of violence mount in West Bank on eve of Palestinian UN bid

NABLUS, West Bank, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Fatahallah Abu Reida, of Qasra village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, is anticipating, with full concern, that Jewish settlers of the nearby Magdolim Settlement may attack his land the day the Palestinians apply to the United Nations for statehood.

Abu Reida, who was injured with his son in a fight with dozens of settlers attacking the orchard of Qasra on Friday, said his concern is mounting that a large-scale attack on the village could be carried out next Friday.

After Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he is determined to submit a request to the UN Security Council for full UN membership of a Palestinian state on the 1967 territories, and called for peaceful rallies to show support, Israel said it would be on alert of any violent escalation.

For its part, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) warned that Israel and Jewish settlers may plot to attack the Palestinians who would rally in support of the UN membership bid.

On Friday, Abu Reids and his wife and children were sitting in their farm in the village of Qasra when a group of armed settlers of Megdolim sneaked into the village. "The settlers believe that our farm is theirs. They destroyed the crops and the water well and then I called for the help of my neighbors," he said.

"Within few minutes, dozens of the residents gathered, including members of the popular committee (which was set up) to defend the people against settlers' assaults. Then the settlers opened fire at us and let their savage dogs attack us. I was hurt in my leg by a gunshot and the dogs bit my son," said Abu Reida.

During the clash, the residents of the village managed to hold nine settlers, witnesses said, adding that dozens of Israeli army soldiers stormed the village to defend the settlers. The soldiers fired tear gas canisters and gunshots to disperse the residents and rescue the settlers, they said.

"Friday's attack on the village wasn't the first of its kind. They had previously attacked the farms and the houses as well as the mosque in the village several times as the day for applying to the UN for full membership of a Palestinian state has become nearer," said Abu Reida.

The Palestinians decided to go to the UN for full membership of a Palestinian state on the territories seized by Israel in 1967 after their direct peace talks with Israel had remained stalled for one year. The talks were suspended after Israel refused to halt settlement construction in East Jerusalem and West Bank.

Ayman, a Palestinian young man who came to visit Abu Reida and his son after they were hurt by the settlers, said the Palestinians have to be patient within the coming few days "until we gain full membership of a Palestinian state on our occupied land."

"Everything will be easy for the sake of the world's recognition of our state," he said.

Abdul Azim Wadi, member of the village's council, told Xinhua that a local committee was formed by villagers and is the first of its kind established in the West Bank to defend villages from settlers' attacks.

"Members of the committee are working day and night. They divide themselves into groups and each group works on a shift during the day or the night," said Wadi, adding that "the committee members are not armed, but they keep their eyes open to watch and prevent any attack on the village."

The village of Qasra, with a population of 6,000, is surrounded by three settlements with several hundred Jewish settlers. Villagers told Xinhua the mosque of the village was severely damaged after settlers set it on fire one week ago.

The attack was condemned by the Palestinians and the European Union, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Settler-related incidents leaving Palestinian injuries and damage to properties have risen more than 50 percent this year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which documents violence in the Palestinian territories.


Editor:James |Source: CNTV

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