Insight: Rattled Israel holds key to Palestinian uprising

Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:58am EST
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By Crispian Balmer

HEBRON, West Bank (Reuters) - Mohammad Salaymeh was killed on his 17th birthday after going to buy a cake for the family celebration, shot dead by an Israeli paramilitary policewoman just two years older than him.

The Israeli police called him a terrorist and said he had pulled a gun on guards manning a permanent checkpoint next to his house in this divided city. The gun turned out to be a child's toy and Salaymeh never got to his party.

"He was no terrorist. He was just a lovely kid," said Adel Salaymeh, a relative walking behind Salaymeh's funeral cortege, the teenager's face poking out of the green flag of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas that shrouded his body.

"The people don't want another Intifada (uprising), but if the Israelis carry on like this, then they will get one," he said, rain dripping from his forehead as a crowd of more than 1,000 walked briskly to the sodden cemetery.

As a winter chill falls on the West Bank, tensions are rising after years of relative calm, with clashes reported almost daily across the territory in a tangled ritual that has come to define 45 years of Israeli occupation.

Groups of Palestinian youths, their faces wrapped in a checkered Keffiyeh headdresses, hurl abuse, stones and the odd petrol bomb at soldiers, who respond with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and the occasional live round.

"Raids in Ramallah, arrests in Jenin, shootings and riots in Hebron. Scenes from the start of the Third Intifada?" said Amir Mizroch, editor of the Israel Hayom English-language news website.

Despite the friction, another sustained, organized uprising against Israeli occupation looks unlikely in the near future.   Continued...

Palestinians carry the body of teenager Mohamad Salaymeh during his funeral in the West Bank city of Hebron in this December 13, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/Files