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Palestinian teen buried in Jerusalem

May 14, 2011 7:40 P.M. (Updated: May 16, 2011 10:04 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Around 2,000 mourners laid the body of a Palestinian teen killed in Jerusalem clashes to rest on Saturday.

Milad Said Ayyash was fatally wounded on Friday as Palestinians across occupied East Jerusalem staged protests in the runup to Sunday's anniversary of the 1948 creation of Israel, an event known to Palestinians as the "nakba" or "catastrophe."

Witnesses and police said that the crowd marched from Ayyash's home in the Ras Al-Amud neighborhood past a nearby Jewish-only settlement where Israeli security forces fired tear gas at stone-throwing youngsters in the crowd. There were reports of injuries and arrests in Israeli media.

Carrying Palestinian flags and the banner of President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, the mourners, some of them masked, chanted "Allah Akbar" (God is great) and "With our blood and our soul, we shall sacrifice for the martyr," as they marched to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City.

On arrival at the mosque, some hoisted the Palestinian flag from its roof. After prayers Ayyash was interred at a Muslim cemetery just outside the city walls.

"He was buried and it all ended relatively quietly," a police spokeswoman told AFP. "Our intention was to preserve general public order, not to be dragged into something or create a provocation."

In conflicting reports of Ayyash's death his family say he was 16 years old, but police say 17.

A relative said he was shot in the stomach by a Jewish settler in the neighborhood of Silwan.

Police said that he suffered a light wound to the shoulder, from as yet unknown causes, and they were investigating the circumstances. They said that no live ammunition was used either by security forces or settlers.

A police statement on Saturday morning said that the family had been asked to allow a post-mortem on the youth's body but they refused and took the corpse from the East Jerusalem hospital where he died overnight.

A United Nations official said that a planned visit to Silwan Saturday by visiting Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos was canceled "because of the situation."

On Friday, police arrested 34 Palestinian youngsters on suspicion of public order offenses, in addition to another 13 rounded up on Wednesday and Thursday.

Police said that three officers were lightly injured in clashes with protesters who threw stones and petrol bombs and that three people causing disturbances were "very slightly hurt" by sponge rounds fired by anti-riot police.

The foam rubber ammunition is designed to deliver a heavy, stunning blow without penetrating the body.

An AFP correspondent saw at least four Palestinians hurt as police fired rubber bullets at stone-throwing youths in Silwan, with clashes also reported in Issawiya, Al-Tur and Ras al-Amud -- all flanking Jerusalem's Old City.

A youth from Silwan was hit in the genitals by rubber bullets fired by security forces on Friday, a spokesman for the Palestinian Red Crescent said. He did not give details on other casualties.

Protests in Jerusalem and elsewhere are to culminate on Sunday, when Palestinian organizations have called for mass rallies, including in neighboring Arab countries.

The Egyptian army has blocked access to the Sinai peninsula to prevent a pro-Palestinian march from Cairo to the Gaza Strip that had been planned for Saturday.

In the Gaza Strip, the ruling Hamas organized a children's protest in the center of Gaza City, while the Palestine Liberation Organization planned a rally in the territory's Bureij refugee camp.

In Israel, a march was scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Jaffa, a mixed Palestinian-Jewish neighborhood of Tel Aviv.

More than 760,000 Palestinians -- estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants -- fled or were driven out of their homes in the Arab-Israeli war which accompanied the establishment of Israel.

Israel celebrated the 63rd anniversary on Tuesday, in accordance with the Hebrew calendar.

Around 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind and were granted Israeli citizenship. They number about 1.3 million people, or some 20 percent of Israel's population.

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