(JTA) – Israel’s Border Police killed two Palestinians in clashes at a Nakba Day rally in the West Bank.
Thursday’s protest, held outside the Israeli army’s Ofer Prison near the Palestinian city of Ramallah, was one of many commemorating what the Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” in which they mourn the creation of Israel and the ensuing displacement of Palestinians.
Unconfirmed reports of the ages of the two victims ranged from 15 to 22. Palestinian sources said the police had used live ammunition at the protest, while the Israel Defense Forces said only rubber-coated bullets were used, according to the Times of Israel.
The rally was one of many to mark Nakba Day, observed on the Gregorian anniversary of Israel’s Independence Day in 1948. Sirens across the West Bank also sounded for 66 seconds, symbolizing the number of years since the founding of Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the best Israeli response to Nakba Day celebrations was the law he had proposed defining Israel as a Jewish state.
“They teach their children with nonstop propaganda that it’s necessary to cause the disappearance of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a speech in Jerusalem.
In response to the killings, Palestinian Authority leaders said they were mulling a halt to security coordination with Israel, a Palestinian security source told the Palestinian Maan news agency, according to The Jerusalem Post.