Two Palestinians killed in mass protest north of Jerusalem

Ron Kampeas

(JTA) — Two Palestinians were killed at a mass demonstration at a crossing north of Jerusalem against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

Seven others were seriously wounded at the protest Thursday at the Qalandiya checkpoint, Haaretz reported. The demonstration at the site between the northern West Bank and Jerusalem drew “tens of thousands,” according to Ynet.

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Pro-Palestinian social media said the deaths occurred when Israeli troops opened live fire. Israel police reported that shots were fired from inside the demonstration at police, Haaretz reported.

Maan, a Palestinian news site, identified one of the dead as Mohammad al-Araj, 19.

The demonstration was organized over the last week, according to Haaretz, as a show of support for the people in Gaza. More than 700 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed there since Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge on July 8 to quell rocket fire from the coastal strip.

The West Bank, where the Palestinians leadership belongs to the relatively moderate Fatah movement, has been relatively quiet since Israel and Hamas escalated their conflict. Over 30 Israelis have been killed in the hostilities.

Meanwhile, rioting was reported at several locations Thursday night in eastern Jerusalem, the Times of Israel reported, after Palestinians younger than 50 were prevented from ascending the Temple Mount on Laylat al-Qadr, which is considered the most important night in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Police had put the age restrictions into place out of concern that both the Gaza operation and Ramadan’s end would lead to violence.

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