Israeli forces attack Palestinian marches supporting hunger-striking prisoners
Dozens of Palestinians were hurt in the occupied West Bank and Gaza on Friday, during clashes with Israeli forces that erupted at marches backing hunger-striking prisoners, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said.
Protesters were injured by tear gas, rubber bullets and live fire, according to both the Red Crescent and the health ministry in Gaza.
Thousands of people demonstrated in various parts of the West Bank, occupied since 1967 by the Israeli army, and near the security barrier that seals off the Gaza Strip, AFP journalists said.
For more than ten years, the coastal territory of Gaza has been under a rigorous Israeli blockade designed to contain its governing-Hamas movement.
Hundreds of Gazans waving Palestinian flags approached the barrier on Friday and threw stones and burned tyres, photographers said.
The health authorities in the enclave said eight people were wounded by bullets and around 30 suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In the southern West Bank, around 1,500 people protested in Hebron, and clashes were also reported in other towns and villages.
The Palestinians were demonstrating in support of hundreds of prisoners in Israeli jails who have been on hunger strike since April 17, demanding better conditions.
Several dozen hunger-striking Palestinians have been transferred from their cells to special wings in Israeli prisons for additional medical supervision, a spokesman for the Israel Prison Service confirmed on Wednesday.
After 31 days, 843 prisoners are still on a hunger strike, the spokesman Assaf Librati said.
The prisoners seek better conditions, including more family visits, however Israel refuses to negotiate.
Israel holds about 6,500 so-called security prisoners – Palestinians jailed for offences ranging from stone-throwing and memberships in organisations outlawed by Israel, to attacks that killed or wounded Israelis.
Several hundred Palestinians are being held without charges or trial, in so-called administrative detention.