GAZA CITY Ñ The Palestinian Authority has organized protests against
the U.S. military presence in Iraq while insurgency groups have called for
attacks on Americans.
Palestinian sources said PA officials organized demonstrations
throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip against the U.S.-led coalition in
Iraq. The demonstrations were approved by PA security forces and contained
officials and employees.
Rallies against the U.S.-led coalition, sparked by the escalation of the
insurgency in Iraq, were held in Gaza City, Ramallah and Nablus on Thursday.
No violence was reported, Middle East Newsline reported.
The demonstrations comprised all of the main Palestinian insurgency
groups, including the ruling Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The protests,
which included a rally in front of the United Nations in Gaza City, accused
the U.S.-led coalition of massacring Iraqi civilians.
At least two Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, employees of U.S.
Agency for International Development who hold Israeli residency, have been
abducted by Shi'ite insurgents in Iraq. The Israeli government was said to
have been concerned that it will come under pressure from the international
community to release Palestinian detainees.
"The state of Israel shouldn't see itself as responsible for their
freedom unless they are citizens," Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz said on Friday.
PA media have not quoted official criticism of the United States. But
Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantisi called on the Iraqis to fight the United
States the same way Palestinians have battled Israel.
At the same time, the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad has urged Iraqis to
escalate attacks against the U.S.-led coalition. Jihad said the Iraqi
uprising could be inspired by the Palestinian insurgency war against Israel.