RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — A leading human rights group has urged the Palestinian government to investigate police beatings during a rally against Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. A Palestinian spokesman said Wednesday the police had acted in self-defense.

The incident took place on Sunday, when Palestinian police prevented protesters from approaching President Mahmoud Abbas’ compound in the West Bank during a rally that was denouncing new Mideast talks.

The Israeli-Palestinian talks were launched in Washington the following day.

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday quoted some of the protesters as saying the police beat them with batons.

Palestinian police spokesman Adnan Damiri said Wednesday that the demonstrators first attacked the police, prompting the response.

The New York-based group said the protesters threw sticks and stones at the police who beat them with “apparent excessive force.”

The police later arrested three of the demonstrators at a hospital where they were being treated for injuries, the group said. One policeman was apparently also treated there.

Human Rights Watch has complained about other instances of Palestinian police violence against protesters in recent months.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.