Thu May 11, 2017 4:5PM
This photo shows a fire during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians protesting in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners near the Israeli Beit El settlement north of Ramallah, May 11, 2017.
This photo shows a fire during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians protesting in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners near the Israeli Beit El settlement north of Ramallah, May 11, 2017.

Israeli forces have clashed with hundreds of Palestinians, who had turned out for a demonstration in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike, injuring almost a dozen protesters.

The scuffles erupted near the Israeli Beit El settlement north of Ramallah Thursday, when Israeli forces fired live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas to prevent them from approaching a military checkpoint.

Israeli forces also used water canon containing foul-smelling liquid to spread the crowd. The Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported that 11 demonstrators had been wounded in the clashes.

This photo shows clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians protesting in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners, near the Israeli Beit El settlement, north of Ramallah, May 11, 2017.

Thursday’s march was called in solidarity with more than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners, who have gone on hunger strike to express their outrage at harsh conditions in Israeli jails. 

The protest action, dubbed the Freedom and Dignity Strike, began on April 17. It is led by a jailed leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement, Marwan Barghouti.

A Palestinian protester prepares to throw a stone towards Israeli forces during clashes following a protest in support of hunger-striking prisoners near the Israeli Beit El settlement north of Ramallah, May 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

"We are entering an extremely critical period" for the hunger strikers," Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said at the Ramallah rally.

"A large number of prisoners can no longer move from their bed or take care of their basic needs,” he added.

Palestinian locals told Ma'an that Israeli forces had tightened security across the occupied West Bank amid protests in solidarity with the hunger-striking inmates. 

Back in 2012, a similar hunger strike, involving some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners, ended after an agreement was reached with Israeli authorities to terminate the policy of internment without trial or charge.