Palestine FM dismayed by ‘timid, weak’ global reaction to Nablus deaths

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed deep dissatisfaction with the low-level international response to what it described as a “heinous massacre” carried out by the Israeli government and its army in Nablus on Wednesday.

The Palestinian Territories witnessed a comprehensive strike on Thursday to mourn the deaths of 11 Palestinians killed by Israeli armed forces in the Nablus operation.

The Foreign Ministry termed the foreign response as “timid, weak reactions and statements … repetitive and routine general formulas.”

Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki instructed the ambassadors of the Palestinian Authority to urgently address the ministries of foreign affairs, decision-making centers and public opinion in the host countries and in the UN to mobilize the broadest international pressure on the Israeli government to stop its illegal unilateral measures.

The minister said that ambassadors should demand effective global responses and steps to ensure Israel halts its comprehensive aggression against the Palestinians.

Thursday’s strike closed stores, schools and banks, while some main streets in the West Bank cities were empty of people and vehicles.

The strike called by Palestinian forces extended to East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian forces called for protest marches and resistance to Israeli armed forces in the West Bank in a strongly worded condemnation of the Nablus killings.

Israeli armed and police forces raised the state of alert and preparedness for Palestinian revenge attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

At the same time, the Palestinian Authority renewed its determination to sue Israel at the International Criminal Court.

Minister Ibrahim Melhem, spokesperson for the Palestinian government, told Arab News that another murder was inevitable as long as the Israelis acted with a sense of impunity.

The US and the UN must intervene immediately to stop targeted Israeli killings of Palestinians, he said.

Prominent Palestinian political analyst Ghassan Al-Khatib told Arab News that the number of Palestinian casualties and the timing of the operation constituted a great embarrassment for the Palestinian Authority, especially after it postponed submitting a project to the UN Security Council against Israel in response to US pressure and mediation.

The results of the Israeli military operation in Nablus damaged the status and credibility of the Palestinian Authority in the eyes of the Palestinians, said Al-Khatib.

“It became clear that Israel does not care or consider the existence of the Palestinian Authority on the ground or its nonexistence when it decides to operate in the West Bank militarily,” Al-Khatib told Arab News.

He accused the coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to export its internal crises by creating another arena of conflict in which he could achieve victories.

Netanyahu had found that killing Palestinians, and weakening and embarrassing the PA was the best way to do so, he said.

Esmat Mansour, a Palestinian expert on Israeli affairs, told Arab News that the Israeli government was delivering one slap after another to the Palestinian Authority, despite the existence of mediation efforts and understandings sponsored by the US.

“Netanyahu is trying to convey a clear message that any understanding must keep the hand of the Israeli army free to operate and do whatever it wants at any time and place and that the Palestinians are the only side that has to abide by the understandings, not Israel,” Mansour added.

The situation in the West Bank has become complicated, he told Arab News.

The Palestinian Authority’s ability to maneuver has declined to zero after what happened in Nablus on Wednesday, said Mansour. 

He claimed that the Israeli army was aware that its offensive operations in Nablus would cause heavy losses among Palestinians.

“But as long as the losses are on the Palestinian side only, the Israeli army considers their side effects as something normal and expected.”

Hazem Qassem, the Hamas spokesman, said that “the valiant resistance in the Gaza Strip will always be present to defend our people, as it is its shield.”

Qassem said the movement was monitoring every detail of the Israeli crime against the Palestinian people, adding that its patience was running out.

Tariq Selmi, spokesman for the Islamic Jihad Movement, said: “Our people have the right to defend themselves and their land, and to confront the occupation’s aggression and terror.”

Selmi warned that the situation might explode and lead to an escalation if the occupation failed to stop its aggression.

Palestinian officials said almost 500 people were injured in the Israeli raid.

“Our teams dealt with 488 injuries during the occupation forces’ invasion into Nablus, including 103 injuries of live bullets taken to hospitals in Nablus,” the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

Other injuries included tear gas inhalation and shrapnel wounds.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the numbers.

The raid, which the Israel Defense Forces said was targeting three militants, left at least 11 Palestinians dead, Palestinian officials said.