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Israeli forces disperse protests across the West Bank

May 23, 2014 10:39 P.M. (Updated: May 24, 2014 5:17 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Friday dispersed protests in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners and against the occupation and separation wall in three West Bank cities on Friday, injuring dozens after opening fire with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters.

Protests took place in the central and southern West Bank, including in Bilin, al-Masara, and Nabi Saleh.

Bilin

In Bilin near Ramallah, Israeli forces fired tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets at participants in a protest in solidarity with more than a 100 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have been on hunger strike for a month, as well as against against continued Israeli settlement construction and the separation wall.

The parents of American activist Rachel Corrie, Craig and Cindy Corrie, participated in the protest along with other Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists. Rachel Corrie was killed by Israeli military bulldozers while trying to protect a Palestinian home in Gaza in 2003.

Participants wore shackles and outfits similar to those worn by Palestinian prisoners and holding signs that read "water salt = freedom" in reference to the daily meals of Palestinian hunger strikers, who are protesting their detention without trial or charge by Israeli authorities.

Participants also raised Palestinian flags and posters of prisoners and marched in the village chanting songs in support of national unity.

Since 2005, Bilin villagers have protested on a weekly basis against the Israeli separation wall that runs through their village on land confiscated from local farmers.

Previous protests by Bilin activists have forced the Israeli authorities to re-route the wall, but large chunks of the village lands remain inaccessible to residents because of the route.

Israel began building the separation wall in 2002, and the route has been the target of regular demonstrations by border towns whose land is cut off by its path.

Al-Masara

Israeli forces also dispersed a protest in support of hunger-striking prisoners in al-Masara village south of Bethlehem.

Dozens of people marched through the village, raising Palestinian flags and posters of prisoners.

The protesters, however, were stopped by Israeli forces as they neared the entrance of the village and they were prevented from reaching their confiscated lands.

Since 2006, the residents of al-Masara have protested on a weekly basis, demanding Israeli authorities return village lands confiscated in order to build the separation wall as it crosses through their town.

Nabi Saleh

Israeli forces also dispersed the weekly protest in support of prisoners in Nabi Saleh village.

They fired tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets causing a number of light injuries, and also caused dozens to suffer from tear gas inhalation.

Participants marched throughout the village and were stopped and targeted at the entrance of the village sparking the clashes.

Israeli forces had arrested Odai al-Tamimi, 21, in an overnight raid, which caused anger among the residents, local organizers said.

The village is the site of weekly protests against the Israeli occupation, with residents demanding that lands confiscated by Israeli forces to build a nearby Jewish-only settlement be returned to them.
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