Nine Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli troops on Palestinian Prisoners Day Monday in Bethlehem and an Israeli soldier was wounded in a separate incident in the city, witnesses said.
About 150 Palestinian students called for the release of Palestinian prisoners as they marched towards the Israeli checkpoint and Rachel's Tomb, a Jewish holy site in Bethlehem that is guarded by Israeli soldiers.
According to witnesses, the students threw stones at the soldiers guarding the tomb and the soldiers responded with rubber bullets and tear gas. Nine Palestinians were lightly wounded, hospital sources said.
In a separate incident in Bethlehem, an Israeli soldier was hit by stones and lightly wounded as he sat in a joint Israeli-Palestinian patrol jeep.
In the West Bank town of Nablus, about 1,000 people held a peaceful demonstration chanting "no peace without release of prisoners."
In Gaza City, hundreds demonstrated for Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to pressure Israel to release all the Palestinian prisoners held for opposing the peace process.
In Jerusalem, about 100 people, most of them women and children, held up pictures of their relatives in Israeli jails and called on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to let them go.
"We are not terrorists, Barak is the terrorist," they chanted while sitting on the steps of the Damascus Gate, one of the main entrances to Jerusalem's Old City.
"With our souls, with our blood we sacrifice for the prisoners,” the protestors yelled. They wore T-shirts that said "no peace with the prisoners in jail."
Similar protests were due to be held throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Palestinian officials say there are still some 1,600 Palestinian political prisoners held in Israel, including about 400 who were jailed after the signing of the 1993 Oslo peace accords -- BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )