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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Extremists stir bloody clashes in Israel

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 12:49:45 GMT | PressTV

Israeli police forces clashed with demonstrators in the town of Umm al-Fahm.
At least 28 people have been wounded in fierce clashes with Israeli police forces in the northern Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm.

The clashes erupted on Tuesday when a number of extremist Jews entered the town to stage a march and encountered Arab residents of the city who had called for a ban on the demonstration.

The scuffle continued for some two hours after the march ended, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Twelve Palestinians and 15 extremist Jews were among the wounded. Ilan Ghilon (Meretz), a leftist Knesset member was also injured after police fired a tear gas grenade near him.

"… There were a number of applications of gas that were perhaps unnecessary, on the roads as well as in the clash," Ghilon told the Israeli Radio.

The city's residents had earlier asked the authorities to ban the march that they viewed as a provocative act in a city where nearly all of whose population are indigenous Palestinians. The High Court, however, allowed the far-rightists to hold the rally and 2,500 police officers were deployed to Umm al-Fahm to protect the ralliers.

"If the authorities do not change their mind and ban the march, we will have to prepare for clashes," one local political Palestinian leader had said on Monday.

Police had tried to disperse the Umm al-Fahm residents who gathered to protest the march and ordered the protestors to leave.

On Monday, a group of protesters held a vigil outside the town's police station calling for a ban on the march. Umm al-Fahm mayor Sheikh Khaled Hamdan had said that" residents will prevent the right-wingers from entering their town, and will use force if necessary".

"We have no desire for clashes," he said, "and we are not planning on confrontations with the marchers or the police. Our position is that we will try to block them with our bodies, but peacefully and quietly."

A general strike was also called in Umm al-Fahm on Tuesday.

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