Over 50 Palestinians injured during hunger strike solidarity protests: medics
JAAFAR ASHTIYEH (AFP)
At least 51 Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli security forces which took place amid protests held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in solidarity with prisoners on a mass hunger strike, the Palestinian Red Crescent said Friday.
Demonstrations were being held throughout the Palestinian territories on Friday following calls by several militant factions in the Gaza Strip for a "Day of Rage" to take place.
Dozens of Palestinians were wounded by tear gas and rubber bullets, medics said.
The most violent clashes took place in the West Bank, in the villages of Beita and Bait Djan near Nablus, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Meanwhile, 10 Palestinians were wounded, one of them by live fire, during clashes in the village of Abud northwest of Ramallah. An Israeli police officer and soldier also sustained injuries as protesters hurled stones at security forces.
Along the Gaza border, an Israeli sniper shot four protesters who attempted to breach the buffer zone and enter Israel, a border police spokesperson said in a statement.
The four sustained wounds to their lower extremities, the statement said, adding that forces in the area also came under fire.
The so-called "Freedom and Dignity" strike, orchestrated by imprisoned Fatah member Marwan Barghouti, has sparked a number of demonstrations across the West Bank since it began on April 17.
The Palestinian National Committee for Solidarity with Prisoners called for a general strike to be held in all Palestinian territories on Monday May 22, and for mass demonstrations to be held on Tuesday May 23 -- the day US President Donald Trump is slated to visit the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
Such demonstrations have turned increasingly violent in recent weeks.
On Thursday, 10 Palestinians were wounded, two seriously, after a demonstrator lost control of his locally-made automatic weapon during a march in the village of Tulkarem, Ma'an reported.
A number of those injured in the incident were minors, the report said.
Also on Thursday, a Palestinian was shot and killed by an Israeli settler after his car was pummeled by rocks and projectiles driving through a large demonstration near Harawa, claiming he was "about to be lynched" by the Palestinian protesters.
Last week, one Palestinian was killed by IDF gunfire as clashes escalated, according to Palestinian media.
Hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouti reportedly began refusing water on Wednesday in an effort to increase pressure on Israel to meet prisoners' demands which include the installation of public telephones and televisions in prison wards, the resumption of academic studies and bi-monthly visitations for inmates, and re-location to facilities in the Palestinian territories.
Israel maintains that conditions meet all international standards, and has so far has refused to negotiate with prisoners.
Barghouti, a popular political figure widely tipped among likely candidates to succeed 82-year-old Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, is a convicted terrorist serving out five life sentences for five counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and was implicated in at least four terror attacks during the second intifada (uprising).
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