Nearly 200 Fatah leaders and Israeli leftists rioted late Wednesday morning near a military prison near Jerusalem and stoned Israeli soldiers and police, wounding two Border Police officers.
The violent riot was in protest of Sunday’s arrest of Abbas Zaki, a senior member of Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Zaki and a dozen others were arrested near Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem after storming an Israeli checkpoint during a march, and he has refused to appear in an Israeli military court.
Following speeches of incitement outside the Ofer military prison located west of Ramallah and near Jerusalem, police dispersed the rioters with tear gas, injuring three demonstrators.
The arrest of Zaki is politically significant because he is the most senior Fatah official to have been arrested by Israel in 17 years, according to the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera news service. “The response from the [Fatah] political leadership has been a commitment to step up popular resistance," according to Al-Jazeera.”
The IDF closed the Bitunia checkpoint, near the Ofer prison, after protesters broke through it. Among the demonstrators were three Fatah Central Committee members, leading rioters who threw rocks at Israeli security officers.
Abbas recently has told English-speaking media he is against violence but in Arabic media he has encouraged “resistance,” a code word for violence and terrorist attacks.