Clashes at a checkpoint between Israel and Palestine have continued into the night, with Israeli forces firing tear gas at Palestinian demonstrators. Meanwhile, one Palestinian has been killed in a Palestinian village attacked by Israeli settlers.
On Friday morning, the Israeli army has strengthened its positions at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, where Palestinians began throwing stones at the Israeli forces and burning tyres.
The Israelis had to fire tear gas to disperse the demonstration in support of the Palestinian statehood bid. Late into the night, neither the Palestinians, nor the Israeli forces have left the checkpoint area, with the sporadic firing still being heard.
RT’s Paula Slier, reporting from Qalandia, says ambulances have been rushing to and from the spot all day taking away the injured, a photographer and an Israeli soldier among them.
Watch more from RT's correspondent Paula Slier
With more clashes erupting around the West Bank on Friday, fears are growing that this could be the start of a Third Intifada.
Two other Palestinian demonstrations have also been scattered, with Israel deploying more tear gas in two villages in the West Bank.
Thus, in the village of Nabi Saleh, Palestinians carried a chair painted blue, which is the UN’s official color, to symbolize their quest for recognition. The demonstrators burned Israeli flags and President Barack Obama posters, while throwing stones towards the Israeli forces.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian village of Qusra was attacked by Jewish settlers, who burnt and uprooted trees near the village. The villagers responded with stones, when the Israli forces arrived at the scene.
In the clashes that followed, a 37-year-old Palestinian was hit in the neck by a live bullet fired by the Israeli troops and later died in the hospital.
In East Jerusalem, five Palestinians are reported to have been arrested after clashes between the Israeli army and Palestinian protesters.
The Palestinians are worried that Friday’s unrest, coming despite their pledge for peaceful statehood campaigning, might send the wrong message to the international community that the autonomy is not ready for statehood, providing Israel with a convenient argument. It could even give Israel an excuse to increase their military presence in the West Bank.
On a positive note for the Palestinians, pro-Palestine rallies have entered their third day in New York just outside the walls of the United Nations headquarters. The demonstrators, including a group of Orthodox Jews, have gathered to express their frustration over the Israeli government’s policies and show support for the Palestinian statehood bid.
By now, Israel has deployed five battalions of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) with 13 more to come in case of disturbance. Twenty-two thousand Israeli police and border police officers were also dispatched to respond to any possible unrest across the country.
The Israeli police and army are expected to remain on high alert until at least Saturday night along the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank, in East Jerusalem and around Arab Israeli towns, police officials told Agence France Presse.
As violence escalates between the conflicting sides, there are signs that within the Palestinians themselves there is no unity over the Palestinian statehood.
In a recent development, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has criticized Mahmoud Abbas’s efforts to get the United Nations to recognize the Palestinian state.
Speaking in Gaza City on Friday, Ismail Haniyeh said that the only way for Palestinian independence is liberation of all Palestinian territories.
He added that Palestinians should not “beg” for statehood in the UN, as this organization is controlled by the “Americans and others” and its political orientation is not “beneficial.”
Dr. Carlo Strenger, a professor of philosophy at Tel Aviv University, believes Friday’s clashes between Israel and Palestine might be led by extremists.
“I think the Palestinian security forces firmly intend to prevent the escalation of violence. I know for sure that the Israeli army has been instructed to do everything to avoid casualties to every extent possible. I also think that most Palestinians do not want this to spill over into the bloodshed, I don’t think that most of Palestinians want a third Intifada,” Strenger told RT.
“The big problem, as usual in the Middle East, is that the extremists often lead the way. I suppose on the Palestinian side there are also those who don’t want this to end peacefully,” he added.