Israeli forces injure dozens of Palestinian protesters: Medics | News
Red Crescent said at least one Palestinian was shot in the leg, others injured by stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets.
Israeli forces injured almost 90 people during protests in the occupied West Bank over the confiscation of Palestinian flags by Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society said on Friday that at least one Palestinian was shot in the leg and taken to the hospital while other protesters sustained injuries from stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets and tear gas inhalation.
The worst clashes took place in the occupied West Bank town of Huwara, near the city of Nablus.
Videos posted on social media earlier this week showed Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers taking down Palestinian flags in the town.
On Friday, Palestinians organised a march of people waving flags.
“What is happening in Huwara is a provocation by the settlers,” Mohammad Abdelhameed, a Huwara council member, told Reuters.
“We hang the Palestinian flag, which is a symbol of our identity and it will remain raised as long as we are on this land,” he said.
Israeli law does not ban the Palestinian flag, but police and soldiers regularly remove Palestinian flags from public areas.
Condemning the Israeli forces’ violence as “repression”, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that locals were protesting against expanding Jewish settlements and the confiscation of Palestinian land.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The violence in Huwara comes in advance of a planned “flag” march by Israeli nationalists in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday.
The controversial march, which is scheduled to pass through the Muslim quarter of the city, is staged annually in celebration of Israel’s capture of the Old City in the 1967 Middle East war.
For many Palestinians, the march is a blatant provocation and a gross violation of one of the few places in the city, increasingly hemmed in by Jewish development and settlement, which retains a strong Palestinian identity. Legal efforts to ban the march have failed.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has defended a decision by his security officials to let Sunday’s procession enter the city’s Damascus Gate and pass through the Muslim quarter. Some members of his coalition have urged him to rethink the route and suggested there might be a last-minute change of heart.
Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement that governs the Gaza Strip, has said they are ready for confrontation if the Israeli government does not keep the march out of Muslim neighbourhoods on Sunday.
“They can avoid a war and escalation if they stop this mad [march],” Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas official, told Reuters in Gaza this week.