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24 Mar, 2009 12:44

Israeli Police Clash with Arab Protesters

Israeli police have used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse a protest by Arab residents of Umm el-Fahm, which is one of Israel's largest Arab towns.

Local Arab residents threw stones at marching Jewish hardliners. Their demonstration followed a Supreme Court decision which allowed the Israeli right-wingers to “exercise their sovereignty over the city”.

They marched under heavy police protection and were carrying Israeli flags. The aim of their campaign was to display that they had the right to freely march anywhere in the country.

The one hundred protesters were supervised by over 2, 500 policemen. Horseback forces and even helicopter units were engaged.

This was seen as a provocative action by some 15, 000 Palestinian residents of the town who violently opposed the march and tried to prevent its participants from entering the town centre.

In response, the police reportedly used water cannons, sound grenades, and tear gas to disperse the protesters.

There were no immediate reports of injuries. However, 3 policemen, a local parliamentarian and a Russian correspondent for the NTV channel were said to have been caught up in the clashes.