Israeli Troops Clash With Pro-Palestinian Protesters

May 16, 2011
Originally published on May 24, 2011 4:47 pm
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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Good morning, Phil.

PHILIP REEVES: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Tell us exactly what happened.

REEVES: And there were big clashes between crowds of Palestinians and Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip. Dozens were injured there, one killed after a crowd of demonstrators moved towards the Israeli border crossing at Erez. And a big demonstration and prolonged clashes on the Israeli-occupied West Bank close to the city of Ramallah. So it was a very violent day in the end.

MONTAGNE: And put this in perspective for us, Phil. What is the larger significance of these demonstrations and clashes?

REEVES: There is now no peace process. And therefore the Authority could find - the Palestinian Authority could find itself under pressure over that issue. And that, of course, could cut to a larger issue related to the Palestinians, and that is preserving the unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah that was recently signed in Cairo. It could put that under pressure too.

MONTAGNE: As I've mentioned, the Arabs Spring, what is the connection here with larger events in the Middle East?

REEVES: But having said that, they say they are inspired. There is a lot of email traffic and social media connection between the people of - particularly of Egypt and the Palestinians. And I think the Palestinians hope that the Arab Spring will deliver for them something that they've been unable to get before, which is political support - a lasting, enduring and reliable political support for their cause, particularly from Egypt, after the new government is formed there.

MONTAGNE: Given that some of these protests were from on the other side of the border from Israel - that is, Syria and Lebanon - how does that figure into this? I mean both those countries have problems of their own right now arising from this Arab Spring.

REEVES: And it may also, from Syria's viewpoint, be an attempt to signal to Israel and to the U.S. that if Mr. Assad loses power there, Israel might face an even more militant Syria.

MONTAGNE: Phil, thanks very much.

REEVES: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: We've been talking to NPR's Philip Reeves, who's in Jerusalem.

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