Officials: Palestinians injured during rallies for prisoners
RAMALLAH, West Bank – Hundreds of Palestinian protesters clashed on Friday with Israeli forces at rallies across the West Bank in support of hunger-striking prisoners whose fast is now in its 33rd day. About 25 demonstrators were wounded, Palestinian officials said.
Five people were wounded by live fire and 10 by rubber bullets, health official said. Another 10 were hurt in clashes near the Gaza border, including one seriously.
Israel's military said troops opened fire after Palestinians hurled fire bombs and rocks at them. Two soldiers were injured.
Some 843 prisoners are still observing the strike that has wide Palestinian support.
Palestinians say the strike is an attempt to improve conditions inside the jails. Israeli officials have dismissed it as a bid by strike leader Marwan Barghouti, widely seen as a potential successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to burnish his political credentials.
Barghouti is serving five life terms after being convicted by an Israeli court of directing two shooting attacks and a bombing that killed five people. Barghouti, who disputed the court's jurisdiction and didn't mount a defense, has been in prison since 2002.
Earlier this month, Israel released footage it said shows Barghouti breaking his fast. Palestinians say the video is a fabrication.
Earlier Friday, Israeli police said a tractor was set on fire and the word "revenge" was spray painted in Hebrew on a wall in a Palestinian village in the West Bank.
The incident took place near a checkpoint where the day before, an Israeli settler opened fire at Palestinians who pelted his car with rocks at a protest in solidarity with the hunger-strikers.
The shooting killed one Palestinian and wounded an Associated Press photographer who was covering the unrest.