Thousands of Palestinians mourn protester slain by Israelis


About 2,000 mourners, some firing automatic rifles into the air, marched on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Saturday with the body of a Palestinian shot dead by Israeli troops.

Tareq Arumi, 23, was killed in one of a string of clashes on Friday between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters angry over violence in the flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Carrying Palestinian flags and banners of the Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas, the mourners escorted Arumi’s body to his family home in the West Bank neighborhood of al-Ram, a few hundred meters (yards) north of the Jerusalem city limits.

“Millions of martyrs will march on Jerusalem,” the mourners chanted.

Israeli troops did not enter al-Ram, and Jerusalem itself was quiet on Saturday morning.

After being viewed by relatives, the body was to be taken to a local mosque for prayers and then to the cemetery for burial.

Arumi, a Fatah member, was wounded in a clash with Israeli soldiers in al-Ram on Friday afternoon and died in hospital in the nearby West Bank city of Ramallah.

The al-Ram unrest broke out as stone-throwers battled Israeli police in the al-Aqsa mosque compound and neighboring districts.

The army said that a soldier apparently opened fire with live ammunition, hitting Arumi in the shoulder.

“An initial investigation suggests that a Palestinian man fired fireworks at soldiers from several meters (yards) away, putting the soldiers’ lives in danger,” a spokesman said.

“The soldier responded by firing, injuring the Palestinian in his shoulder.”

He added that the incident was under investigation.

At al-Aqsa, there were clashes between riot police and “hundreds” of Palestinian stone-throwers, police said.

They said that the unrest had been fuelled by web postings by Israeli rightists urging Jews to visit the mosque compound and assert Israeli sovereignty over the site, one of the most sensitive in the Middle East.

It is referred to by Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) and marks the spot in Islam from which the Prophet Mohammad made his night journey to heaven.

Jews revere the sacred compound as the site of their Biblical Temple, destroyed by Roman troops in the 1st century. Surviving foundations of its Western Wall are now a focus of prayer.