More 14 Palestinians Injured in Clashes with Israeli Troops
At least 14 Palestinians were wounded, four of them by live bullets, during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Sunday, the third straight day of unrest, witnesses and medical officials said.
Across the territories, thousands of Palestinians joined rallies calling for the release of prisoners and to mark al-Nakba, or "the catastrophe" of the creation of the state of Israel 52 years ago, with the peace process at an impasse following the missing of a deadline for a framework accord.
Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip fired rubber-coated and live bullets and tear gas as some 700 Palestinian protestors marched on an army checkpoint at the Jewish settlement of Nezarim, many chanting "Release our prisoners" and "No peace without the release of prisoners."
Four demonstrators were hit with live bullets, and another six suffered wounds from rubber bullets, hospital officials said. One of the casualties was a 14-year-old boy who was hit in the neck with a rubber bullet, witnesses said.
The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the reports of the use of live ammunition.
Three protestors were injured in Nablus by rubber bullets fired by Israeli soldiers after a "Nakba" rally near Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank, where demonstrators burned Israeli flags and a life-size effigy of Barak, witnesses said.
Around 1,500 joined a similar rally at the Al-Amari camp near Ramallah, with protestors shouting slogans demanding the right of return of the some 3.5 million Palestinians made homeless after 1948.
Clashes erupted as Israeli troops fired rubber bullets on dozens of stone-throwing Palestinians when they marched towards the Israeli checkpoint on the edge of Ramallah, witnesses said.
One youth was lightly injured by a rubber bullet.
The renewed violence flared as a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jerusalem aimed at settling the fate of the some 1,600 prisoners in Israeli jails broke off in crisis.
"I have explained to the Palestinian side that no talks can produce positive results while violent demonstrations continue. I have asked that this message be passed to the authority," chief Israeli negotiator Oded Eran told reporters.
Dozens of Palestinians were wounded in rioting in towns across the West Bank on Friday and Saturday during events organised to seek freedom for the Palestinian inmates.
Around 700 Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger strike, many of them since the beginning of the month, to demand their release, one of the most emotive issues in the peace process with the Jewish state.
Israel has freed almost 400 prisoners since the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh interim peace accord with the Palestinians in September.
Meanwhile, a group of around 150 Palestinian refugees scuffled with Israelis when they tried to return to Arab villages that had been their homes before they were kicked out after Israel's creation, witnesses said.
Israeli residents of Kefar Zekharya, southwest of Jerusalem, tried to prevent the Palestinians, all of them over the age of 60, from entering the village where they had planned to pray, the witnesses said.
"This activity today shows how deeply the refugees miss their homeland and that there will be no real peace if their problem is not solved," said Arab-Israeli MP Hashem Mahameed, who joined the Palestinians, all refugees from the Daheisha refugee camp near Bethlehem -- GAZA CITY (AFP).
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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