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Nakba Day passes relatively quiet 

What happened: Israeli security was on the highest alert yesterday as Palestinians marked their ‘Nakba’ (Disaster) Day.

  • Last night a Palestinian man was apprehended in the Tapuach Junction after arousing suspicion. He was armed with an axe and in his possession was a suicide note which indicated that he was on his way to carry out a terror attack.
  • Overall the day was relatively quiet, as Muslims and non-Muslims visited the Temple Mount with no reported disturbances.
  • Several dozen Arab students marked Nakba Day at Tel Aviv University. Police were deployed to separate them from Jewish students holding a counter-demonstration nearby. Three Arab demonstrators who allegedly attacked Jewish students were detained by the police.
  • The Arab students demonstrating in Tel Avi University, were joined by MKs from the Joint List. They waved Palestinian flags and chanted, “With blood and fire, we will redeem Palestine.” The students argued that Tel Aviv University was built on the former Palestinian village of Sheikh Munis.
  • A police spokesperson said: “The Israel Police will allow freedom of protest, but won’t allow a disturbance of the peace on the site.”
  • Over the weekend Israeli security forces operated in several locations in the West Bank. In total, 17 suspects were arrested over the last two nights and guns and other weapons were confiscated.
  • On Friday the IDF went on another mission in the Jenin area to arrest wanted terrorist, Muhammad Dabii.
  • In the exchange of gunfire Noam Raz, a member of the Israeli Special Unit for Counter-Terror Warfare, was killed.
  • Daud Zubeidi (the brother of Zakaria) was wounded in the exchange. He was initially taken to a hospital in Jenin but was later transferred to Rambam Hospital in Haifa for emergency treatment.

Reflections on Friday’s funeral for Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqla:

  • Horrific scenes were broadcast around the world, showing Israeli police beating with batons the crowd and those carrying the coffin.
  • Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai has instructed the police to open an investigation into the incident.
  • According to Minister for Public Security Omer Bar-Lev: “The police acted in order to ensure an orderly funeral procession. Unfortunately, participants in the event committed some serious actions that caused the situation on the ground to deteriorate. The chief of police has appointed a task force … to investigate the incident and to draw conclusions.”
  • According to the police, prior to the footage broadcast rocks and bottles were thrown at the security forces.
  • Prior to the funeral the police had coordinated plans with the Abu Aqla family. However, the rioters  deviated from the agreed plan, by attempting to march with the coffin instead of placing it inside the hearse.
  • The police claim they were forced to restrain the coffin bearers in order to keep to the original plan and to prevent wider disturbances.

IDF investigation into her death:

  •  Over the weekend, the IDF presented their initial findings, however without the bullet, the investigation was inconclusive.
  • The investigation presented two possibilities. “The first possibility is that there was massive gunfire from Palestinian armed men trying to hit IDF forces. During that attack, hundreds of bullets were fired from several locations indiscriminately.”
  • The second possibility, is that “during the fighting, one of the fighters fired several bullets through a special opening in the jeep and through a telescopic sight at a terrorist who fired at the vehicle. The reporter may have been standing next to or behind the armed terrorist and she was hit by IDF gunfire. The distance from the vehicle to the journalist was about 200 meters.”
  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) has reiterated its refusal to hold a joint investigation with Israel, despite pressure from the US to cooperate.
  • Instead, PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said Saturday that the Palestinians “welcome the participation of all international bodies in the investigation”.

Looking forward: Israeli security forces are expected to remain on high alert as there are several more symbolic dates that could be marked with violence.

  • On May 29 Israel marks Jerusalem Day.
  • On June 5 Palestinians mark Naksa Day – Day of Setback (when Israel took over the West Bank in 1967 from Jordan occupation).
  • The 6th June is the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the First Lebanon War.
  • On the 15th June, Hamas will mark 15 years of their takeover of the Gaza Strip.

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