Clashes as hundreds of Palestinian protest across West Bank, Gaza
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Clashes as hundreds of Palestinian protest across West Bank, Gaza

Masked teens throw rocks, roll burning tires at IDF troops, who respond with rubber bullets, tear gas; one soldier lightly wounded

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian demonstrators during a violent protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners outside Nablus on May 26, 2017. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)
Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian demonstrators during a violent protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners outside Nablus on May 26, 2017. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

Hundreds of Palestinians took part in violent protests against Israeli troops across the West Bank and Gaza on Friday, in support of a hunger strike by security prisoners.

Over all, 18 Palestinian rioters were said to be injured in the clashes with IDF soldiers. One Israeli serviceman was also lightly wounded, the army said.

Palestinian youths have been taking part in occasionally violent protests against Israeli troops on an almost daily basis, as the hunger strike enters its fifth week. Friday evening will also mark the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a period which has historically seen an increase of tensions in the region.

In Jericho, dozens of Palestinians attacked Israeli troops with rocks and burning tires. One soldier was lightly injured by a rock that was thrown at him. He was taken to receive medical care, the army said.

In Beita, outside Nablus, hundreds of young Palestinians threw rocks and rolled burning tires at Israeli troops, who responded with rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and stun grenades, an army spokesperson said.

A Palestinian youth uses a slingshot against Israeli security forces during a violent protest in solidarity with Palestinian security prisoners outside Nablus on May 26, 2017. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP PHOTO)
A Palestinian youth uses a slingshot against Israeli security forces during a violent protest in solidarity with Palestinian security prisoners outside Nablus on May 26, 2017. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

According to the Palestinian Maan news agency, one person was injured from gunfire during the protest and 11 more were lightly wounded from tear gas inhalation.

Palestinians take part in a violent protest in front of Israeli security forces following a Friday afternoon prayer service in solidarity with Palestinian security prisoners outside Nablus on May 26, 2017. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP PHOTO)
Palestinians take part in a violent protest in front of Israeli security forces following a Friday afternoon prayer service in solidarity with Palestinian security prisoners outside Nablus on May 26, 2017. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

Multiple demonstrations broke out in the area of Ramallah, with dozens of people taking part in each protest, the army said.

There too the army said it used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the riot.

In Nabi Saleh, on the outskirts of Ramallah, two Palestinians were injured by Israeli gunfire, according to Maan news.

However, IDF soldiers did not respond to every protest in the West Bank. For instance, a group of Palestinians burned tires and demonstrated in the city of Qalqilya, but the troops present have not taken action against the protesters, the army said.

Palestinian demonstrators run for cover during clashes with Israeli forces during a protest in the West Bank village of Bait Djan, near the city of Nablus, on May 19, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)
Palestinian demonstrators run for cover during clashes with Israeli forces during a protest in the West Bank village of Bait Djan, near the city of Nablus, on May 19, 2017. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

In multiple locations along the Gaza border, Palestinians rolled burning tires and threw rocks at Israeli troops on the other side, the army said.

A military spokesperson said the IDF soldiers were working to push back the Palestinians who approached the security fence, but would not comment on what means were used to disperse the riots. However, Arab media reported that rubber-coated bullets and tear gas were fired at the protesters.

At least four Palestinians were reported injured in the clashes.

In addition to expressing solidarity with the hundreds of hunger-striking prisoners, the Gaza protests were also in response to the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Strip, according to local Arab media.

Illustrative. Gazan demonstrators approach the border fence with Israel during clashes with Israel Defense Forces troops on October 9, 2015. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
Illustrative. Gazan demonstrators approach the border fence with Israel during clashes with Israel Defense Forces troops on October 9, 2015. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

Due to a spat over tax payments between the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, the coastal enclave has only had minimal access to electricity in recent weeks, as neither side agrees to pay the costs for power.

The prison hunger strike, which began on April 17, is being led by prominent Fatah political figure and convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti.

Barghouti is serving five life sentences for murders committed during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, many imprisoned on security offenses, have been refusing food over conditions for about 6,500 Palestinian inmates.

Among their demands are access to telephones, more family visits, improved medical care and an end to punitive solitary confinement.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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