Israelis, Palestinians clash at West Bank site



Israelis, Palestinians clash at West Bank site Bilin: Israeli forces fired tear gas at some 200 stone-throwing Palestinians on Thursday in the West Bank village of Bilin, focus of years of protests against Israel's controversial separation barrier.

The Palestinians used bulldozers to try and bring down the fence during the protests that were briefly attended by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who led Friday prayers before departing, a photographer said.

Bilin is the site of weekly protests against the fence, but the demonstrations took on extra significance as the Israeli army began removing parts of the fence this week.

The military is altering the course of the barrier in the area, finally carrying out a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that said it significantly impinged on the property rights of Palestinian landowners.

During today's protest some 200 Palestinians took part in what the army called an "illegal riot."

The army used "riot dispersal means" and no live fire was used, an military spokesman said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Israel says the barrier is designed to prevent attacks, but the Palestinians view it as an "apartheid wall" that carves off key parts of their promised state.

When the 709-kilometre (435-mile) barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians' protests against the barrier in Bilin have resulted in sometimes deadly consequences.

In January, woman protester Jawaher Abu Rahmah, died, apparently after inhaling tear gas. Her brother Bassem Abu Rahmah had died in April 2009 after being hit on the head by a tear-gas canister.

In a non-binding 2004 judgement, the International Court of Justice called for the dismantling of all parts of the separation barrier built on occupied territory.

PTI