Ramallah, West Bank – At least 50 Palestinian protesters were injured in clashes with Israeli forces on a “day of rage” held across the occupied Palestinian territories to show solidarity with more than 1,500 prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons.
The majority of injuries resulted from tear gas inhalation, while some protesters were shot with live or rubber bullets, a ministry spokesperson told Al Jazeera.
Director of Ramallah Hospital Ahmad Bitawi said more than 20 people were injured. He said most were leg injuries and not life threatening.
The “day of rage” was called for by Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and the national committee to support the prisoners’ hunger strike.
In a statement issued last week, Fatah said the “excessive” practices of the Israeli occupation, particularly by the Israeli Prison Service, meant Palestinians should “clash with the occupier everywhere across our homeland”.
On Friday, Palestinians across the occupied West Bank gathered at the solidarity tents set up before proceeding to nearby military checkpoints.
On a hillside overlooking the entrance to Ofer prison, where a number of the hunger-striking prisoners are detained, dozens of young men hurled stones at Israeli military vehicles.
Israeli forces responded with volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets, while the occasional live round was heard.
“I know that by being here you are not directly helping the prisoners but you are helping a little bit,” 26-year-old Anas Salous, who did not participate in the protests, told Al Jazeera.
“I can’t accept being at home and doing nothing. Unless we support them and show up, nothing will happen. It is better to come here than just giving it a Facebook like.
“I was a prisoner in the past. At the end of the day, it is their own fight. I know they have no power and that they are fighting with their bodies. They have the right to use their bodies. Using their bodies as a weapon, this is the last chance they have.”
Clashes also erupted in towns and villages across the West Bank where protesters threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded with a variety of crowd control weapons and live fire, according to local media.
Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike on April 17 in protest over conditions in Israeli prisons, calling for more family visits, better medical attention and an end to torture and administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial.
Around 6,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli prisons, 500 of whom are held under administrative detention.
The mass prisoner hunger strike was organised by Marwan Barghouti, a senior Fatah figure who is serving multiple life terms in an Israeli prison for his role in killing Israelis during the second intifada.
The “day of rage” followed a general strike that shuttered businesses, schools, government institutions and public transport across the occupied Palestinian territories on Thursday.
A number of clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli forces on Thursday, local media reported.
Source: Al Jazeera News
French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron has been booed and heckled with chants backing his far-right rival Marine Le Pen in his home town.
Wednesday’s incident happened outside the Whirlpool appliance factory in northern city of Amiens after Macron arranged to meet the plant workers’ union representatives, without actually visiting the facility.
He only arrived there after Le Pen turned up unannounced outside the plant and posed for selfies with workers.
“Everyone knows what side Emmanuel Macron is on – he is on the side of the corporations,” Le Pen said. “I am on the workers’ side, here in the car park, not in restaurants in Amiens.”
After arriving, Macron told angry workers that the only reason that anti-EU Le Pen had come was “because I’m here”.
He also retorted on Twitter that she had spent “10 minutes with her supporters in a car park in front of the cameras” whereas he had spent “an hour and a half with union representatives and no media”.
Le Pen’s campaign coup
Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, speaking from Arras, said Le Pen showed Macron that “the gloves are off in the battle for the French presidency”.
“He was totally upstaged by the far-right leader. It was a real campaign coup. It perhaps shows what some people have been saying – that he is inexperienced,” she said. “Marine Le Pen is a veteran politician. She knows how to campaign hard.”
The factory operated by Whirlpool, a US multinational company, is threatened with outsourcing to Poland.
Macron was in Amiens to try to counter accusations that he had made a complacent start to campaigning for the presidential runoff on May 7.
After winning Sunday’s contest with 24.1 percent to Le Pen’s 21.3 percent, Macron gave an exuberant victory speech followed by a high-profile celebration at La Rotonde bistro in Paris, drawing criticism from some quarters.
Socialist Party chief Jean-Christophe Cambadelis told French radio: “He was smug. He wrongly thought that it was a done deal. It’s not a done deal.”
President Francois Hollande appeared on Tuesday to admonish his former economy minister for not taking the fight to Le Pen immediately after the first round.
Macron shot back, saying: “I will continue to fight for two weeks … I will defend the progressive camp to the end.”
A poll on Wednesday suggested that Macron will defeat Le Pen by a margin of 21 points, but as the day’s events showed, the far-right candidate is a more experienced political campaigner.
Who to endorse
A key factor in the race is which candidate the supporters of Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon, who finished in fourth place with 19.58 percent on Sunday, will support in the runoff.
Melenchon faced criticism after he failed to urge people who voted for him to get behind Macron as part of the so-called “republican front”, the decades-old French tactic of closing ranks to block the far-right.
Melenchon’s spokesman Alexis Corbiere said the hard-left firebrand would not endorse anyone.
Corbiere, however, told French TV channel LCI earlier on Wednesday that “for us the National Front is a danger” and urged viewers to not give “a single vote to the National Front”.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies
NSA to Stop Gathering Some Messages from US Citizens: Sources
The U.S. National Security Agency has halted a form of surveillance that allowed it to collect the digital communications of Americans that mentioned a foreign intelligence target without a warrant, three sources told Reuters.
The decision to stop the program, which collected messages sent or received internationally and which had been criticized by privacy advocates, was first reported by the New York Times.
The change is an attempt to remedy privacy compliance issues raised by rules implemented in 2011 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which operates in secrecy, sources said. The chief concern had been that the specific kind of collection sometimes produced surveillance of messages that were wholly domestic because of technical reasons.
Julian Sanchez, a privacy and surveillance expert with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, called the decision “very significant” and among the top priorities for reform among civil liberties group.
The NSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.