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Israeli forces disperse West Bank demos

Aug. 23, 2013 6:31 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 24, 2013 1:20 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Friday dispersed a demonstration in al-Maasara village south of Bethlehem in solidarity the victims of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

Demonstrators marched toward the wall and raised Palestinian flags and pictures of prisoners in Israeli jails. Israeli forces used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

Activists also condemned the “massacre” in Syria, and reiterated their support for Syrian people and Palestinian refugees in Syria.

Mohammad Brejia, coordinator of the popular committee against the wall, said that “Palestinians monitor the negotiations closely because what is required from the Palestinian negotiator is to seriously and efficiently (advocate) the issue of Palestinian refugees, land, and prisoners.”

Near Ramallah, four people were injured and dozens suffered tear-gas inhalation in clashes between protesters and Israeli forces in Bilin village's weekly march against the wall and settlement activity.

Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at protesters who marched toward their lands near the wall. Ashraf al-Khatib, 33, Kifah Mansour, 35, Mohammad Hamad, 22, and a Chinese journalist suffered injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets. Activists suffered tear-gas inhalation.

Protesters raised Palestinian flags and chanted for unity, and called for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

In Kafr Qaddum, another village near Ramallah, two people sustained injuries and dozens suffered tear-gas inhalation as Israeli forces targeted a mosque while dispersing a demonstration.

Israeli soldiers positioned on a hilltop overlooking the mosque fired dozens of tear-gas canisters during the sermon. Worshipers suffered tear-gas inhalation and several people fainted, including elderly residents.

A spokesman for the demonstrators, Murad Eshtewi, said Israeli soldiers raided the village at 11 a.m. and fired hundreds of tear-gas canisters all around the village. Mashhour Saleh Jum’a, 42, and Mohammad Shaker Eshtewi, 24, were struck by tear-gas canister in the hand and back, respectively.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said Palestinians hurled rocks at security forces who responded with riot-control measures in both Bilin and Kafr Kaddum.

She said that in Kafr Kaddum, Palestinians also rolled a burning tire toward security forces.

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