Dozens shot by Israeli forces as Palestinians mark Nakba Day

Funerals held for 11 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces on Friday

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Two Palestinians were shot dead and dozens wounded by Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, as protests swelled amid raging conflict between Gaza and Israel.

The deaths on Saturday came as Palestinians marked Nakba Day, commemorating the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people during the creation of Israel in 1948.

Medics treated more than 90 people for gunshot wounds in Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron and elsewhere in the West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Earlier on Saturday the ministry declared the “highest state of emergency” in hospitals, expanding emergency rooms and first aid stations across the Palestinian territory.

The measure comes a day after 11 Palestinians were shot dead by the Israeli army, one of whom the military said had attempted to stab a soldier. As their funerals took place on Saturday, crowds gathered around those killed who were shrouded in the Palestinian flag.

Palestinians set tires on fire and used slingshots to hurl objects at Israeli forces.

In separate incidents near Hebron, the Israeli military said it responded to two car-ramming attempts on Saturday.

In the first incident the army said the driver was “neutralised”, a term usually meaning shot, while in the second a soldier fired towards the vehicle.

Near the Israeli settlement of Beit El, north of Ramallah, a demonstrator urged other Palestinians to join them.

"We're calling on everybody to protest and to protect the homeland because what is happening in Jerusalem and Palestine is not acceptable," he told AP, declining to give his name for security reasons.

“One must protect the homeland. Nothing else would work. We do what we have to do,” he said.

We're protecting the homeland, says protester

At a rally in the city of Ramallah, protesters waved Palestinians flags while some carried signs reading “save Sheikh Jarrah” and “stop bombing Gaza”.

The East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah became a focal point of protest last month, as people demonstrated against eviction orders hanging over Palestinian families.

Demonstrations broadened to the Old City's Damascus Gate at the start of Ramadan, initially over Israeli police banning people from gathering there after evening prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque.

The situation deteriorated dramatically with clashes at the mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, in which hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israeli police officers were hurt.

The military wing of Hamas, which rules Gaza, responded by firing rockets towards the city on Monday. At least 146 Gazans have been killed since and eight people in Israel.

The violence has prompted international protest, with thousands gathering outside the Israeli embassy in London on Saturday in support of the Palestinians. Similar rallies were held in other capitals including Berlin and Madrid, while in Paris demonstrators defied a ban by French authorities.

Pro-Palestine marches are held across Europe

Pro-Palestine marches are held across Europe

With more than 2,000 rockets fired from Gaza and at least 670 targets there attacked by Israel according to the country’s military, the sheer scale of fire has sparked global alarm.

US envoy Hady Amr landed in Israel late Friday in a push for peace, though diplomatic efforts to get a ceasefire on the table have stalled so far.

In a Saturday call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden highlighted that the conflict has "tragically claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children."

Eight children and their two mothers were killed in Gaza by Israeli strikes on Saturday. A five-month-old baby was the sole survivor.

The fighting has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis

President Biden also “voiced his concern about violent confrontations in the West Bank,” the White House said.

Earlier this week, the Biden administration said it will provide $10 million to Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza to support exchange and reconciliation projects with Israelis.

The United Nations has meanwhile called for a ceasefire following days of “great suffering and destruction”.

“The fighting has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and to foster extremism further, not only in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, but in the region as a whole,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said Friday.

With casualties mounting, Egypt on Saturday opened its Rafah border crossing with Gaza to transfer some of more than 1,000 wounded Palestinians. Rockets from Gaza have wounded 109 people in Israel.

Speaking on Saturday night, Mr Netanyahu suggested a ceasefire was not immediately on the agenda.

"Israel has responded forcefully to these attacks and we will continue to respond forcefully until the security of our people is reinstated and restored.”

Against the backdrop of the Gaza conflict, Israel is currently facing an outburst of intercommunal violence across the country. The authorities have so far failed to quell consecutive nights in which both Arab and Jewish mobs have gone on the rampage, beating passersby, attacking places of worship and torching cars.