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Israeli forces clash with protesters outside Ofer jail

Feb. 19, 2013 3:13 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 20, 2013 2:39 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces clashed with protestors outside Ofer detention center near Ramallah on Tuesday at a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners.

The rally in solidarity with hunger-strikers marched towards the Israeli prison from Birzeit, Beitunia and Ramallah.

Israeli forces fired tear gas at protesters and youths responded by throwing stones at military forces.

At least 18 people were lightly injured, witnesses told Ma'an, and journalists at the scene said Israeli forces deliberately targeted them with smoke bombs and sound grenades.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said "approximately 150 Palestinians rioted and hurled rocks and firebombs at security personnel, who responded with riot dispersal means."

The protest is the latest in a series of popular demonstrations to voice anger at the condition of Palestinian prisoners on hunger-strike.

In a statement on Monday, France's Foreign Ministry urged Israel "to be sensitive to the risk of a tragic outcome and to take appropriate measures as a matter of urgency".

Islamic Jihad said a truce with Israel that ended eight days of fighting in November could unravel if any hunger striker died.

Nearly 800 prisoners in Israeli jails launched a one day hunger strike on Tuesday to show solidarity with long-term hunger strikers, a prisoner group said earlier.

On Monday, protesters rallied in Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah in support of hunger striking prisoners in Israeli jails, as Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe warned of a popular uprising.

Last week hundreds of Palestinians protested across the West Bank in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike, sparking a series of clashes with Israeli forces.

Reuters contributed to this report
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