15 Palestinians Injured in Clashes with Israeli Soldiers in West Bank
At least 15 Palestinian were injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank town of Ramallah Friday after Israel imposed a complete closure on the Palestinian territories in response to twin bomb attacks a day earlier.
Israeli soldiers posted on the outskirts of the Arab-run city fired live ammunition and rubber-coated bullets on Palestinian youths who threw stones and bottles at them, medical officials said.
Three of those injured were hit with live bullets and the rest with rubber-coated steel bullets.
The clashes in Ramallah broke out after a march there held by some 2,000 Palestinians.
"We die for Palestine!" shouted some of the demonstrators, participants in the three-month long Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, that has left more than 350 people dead, most of them Palestinians.
In the northern West Bank town of Nablus, some 6,000 supporters of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas held a demonstration in which they called for jihad, or holy war, against Israel.
In a rare display of force at a rally organized by Hamas, masked gunmen fired assault rifles in the air.
Demonstrators in Nablus also set fire to a model of an Israeli bus, a sign of support for armed attacks against Israeli civilians.
Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak, acting in his role of defense minister, ordered the total closure of the Palestinian territories after a bomb attack on a bus in Tel Aviv Thursday left 13 people injured.
Also Thursday, a bomb attack on an Israeli army patrol in the Gaza Strip killed two soldiers and wounded two others.
In Jerusalem Friday, midday prayers attended by more than 20,000 thousand people, according to Israeli police, ended without violence.
Israeli police had dropped age restrictions on Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and Arab Israelis entering the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied east Jerusalem for the weekly Friday prayers.
Because of the closure, however, no Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza Strip were permitted to enter Jerusalem, a police spokesman said.
Israel has blockaded the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- either entirely or partially -- for most of the Intifada, which erupted after a visit to the al-Aqsa mosque compound by right-wing Israeli leader Ariel Sharon on September 28.
The al-Aqsa mosque compound is the third holiest site in Islam, and it sits atop of a hill supported by the Wailing Wall, the holiest shrine for Jews.
Since the beginning of the Intifada, Israeli police have decided each week on the degree to which to limit Palestinian Muslims from coming and praying at al-Aqsa, fearing violence -- RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP)
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