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Hundreds protest Israeli wall

Maan News Agency

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Palestinians and foreign nationals were arrested across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Friday, as Israeli forces dispersed weekly protests against Israel's wall and settlements.

Four international peace activists were detained during a protest supporting Palestinian families from East Jerusalem who were evicted from their homes and replaced by Israeli settlers.

Photographer Mustafa Abu Turk told Ma'an that Israeli forces assaulted photojournalists in the flashpoint Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah "in an attempt to prevent us from doing our jobs."

Maysoon Al-Ghawi, a resident of the flashpoint East Jerusalem district and a member of one of the Palestinian families expelled by settlers in 2009, also told Ma'an that "Israeli forces attacked protesters and used force to keep us from approaching our confiscated homes."

Israeli police officials told the Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth that the protestors were detained after arriving at houses in the Palestinian neighborhood and forcibly refusing to leave a compound used exclusively by settlers.

In Bil'in, a village near Ramallah in the central West Bank, Israeli border police detained Haitham Al-Khatib, a cameraman for the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements and Palestinian field worker for the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

Israel's military said one person was detained for questioning during what it termed a violent and illegal riot. An army spokeswoman told Ma'an that the arrest came after the Palestinian entered an area designated as a closed military zone.

B'Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli rejected the army's explanation. Israel's closed-zone order does not apply to residents of the West Bank village, Michaeli insisted, adding that, in any case, Al-Khatib was filming the protest rather than participating in it.

In the nearby village of Nabi Salih, west of Ramallah, demonstrators said dozens of protesters choked on tear gas, while Israel said at least one border police officer was injured by rocks.

An estimated 200 human rights advocates, among them international and Israeli solidarity activists, joined the weekly Palestinian protest against Israel's wall. Participants insisted the event was generally peaceful.

Bashir At-Tamimi, head of the Nabi Salih village council, said "Soldiers attacked the rally, showering [participants] with rubber-coated bullets and tear-gas canisters. Dozens were injured after inhaling gas."

At-Tamimi added: "Israeli forces chased protestors into the village, fired gas canisters at their homes, and sprayed houses with sewage water, injuring several women and children, who fainted after inhaling fumes."

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