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20 Palestinians shot as Israeli forces suppress rallies in support of hunger strike

May 22, 2017 3:21 P.M. (Updated: May 22, 2017 10:09 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- At least 20 Palestinians were shot and injured -- one seriously -- during clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank districts of Ramallah and Hebron on Monday afternoon, as clashes also broke when Israeli forces suppressed demonstrations launched in solidarity with more than 1,300 Palestinian prisoners who entered their 36th day on hunger strike.

Israeli forces fired both live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian protesters who marched from Ramallah city to Israel's Qalandiya military checkpoint, according to Palestinian medical sources.

Among those injured was a young man who was hit with a live bullet in the abdomen and was evacuated to the Palestinian Medical Complex in Ramallah. Doctors there reported his condition as "moderate to serious."

Seven others were shot with live fire, and 10 were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, medical sources said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent's ambulance service set up a field clinic near the Qalandiya checkpoint to treat protesters and bystanders, dozens of whom whom were suffocating as Israeli soldiers showered the area with tear gas.

Witnesses said Israeli soldiers fired at the demonstrators from rooftops overlooking the main street. In response, demonstrators pelted Israeli soldiers with stones.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an they were looking into reports of the Qalandiya-area clashes.

In the Ramallah-area village of Nabi Saleh, two Palestinian "youth" were injured with live ammunition during clashes that erupted with Israeli forces at the entrance of the village, after Israeli forces suppressed a solidarity march.

In response to a request for comment on the clashes in Nabi Saleh, an Israeli army spokesperson said that "60 Palestinians were rolling burning tires and hurling rocks at Israeli forces. Forces responded to the immediate threat using crowd control means to disperse the violent riot." She also confirmed the use of 0.22 caliber rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades on the protesters.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out in the Zif community between Yatta and Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank, after Israeli soldiers suppressed a peaceful march from a sit-in tent established in solidarity with the prison hunger strike.

Israeli forces shot live fire into the air and fired tear gas canisters at protesters, causing at least two Palestinians to suffer from tear gas inhalation, locals told Ma'an.

Clashes also erupted between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces at the Bab al-Zawiya area of Hebron city, where Palestinians threw rocks at the Israeli military checkpoint at the entrance to al-Shuhada Street, while Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians, causing no injuries.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an they were looking into reports of the clashes in the Hebron area.

The clashes came as Palestinians observed a general strike across the Palestinian territory in support of the mass hunger strike, and also to express opposition to US President Donald Trump who arrived in Israel on Monday for a two-day visit that will include a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

Separately a "vehicles march" also launched in Hebron city on Monday, where Palestinians drove thought the streets as an act of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.

This is a developing story.

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