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Violent protests in West Bank over Gaza conflict

12:00 Nov 21 2012 Ofer Military Prison, Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron

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RAMALLAH (Reuters) -- Small clashes broke out between Palestinians and the Israeli army in multiple locations across the occupied West Bank on Wednesday in protests over the on-going conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Medics said two Palestinians were shot in the legs by Israeli gunfire in a demonstration outside Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah -- one of several flash points for protests against Israeli forces.

Israel's military says its soldiers fire live ammunition at demonstrators' legs only after they have fired warning shots in the air and "exhausted all possible means" to avoid any perceived imminent danger to themselves.

The three main cities in the West Bank -- Ramallah, Hebron and Nablus -- all saw dozens of Palestinian youths hurling stones at soldiers, with some using sling-shots.

They were met with tear-gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber bullets, foul smelling 'skunk' spray, and the live ammunition.

Palestinians said two protesters were killed by Israeli gunfire in separate incidents in West Bank demonstrations earlier this week. The military is investigating both incidents.

In Nablus hundreds waved Palestinian and Hamas flags in a rally against the eight-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

"Strike, Strike, Tel Aviv," crowds chanted, reciting the words made popular by a new pop song.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip are divided both geographically and politically. Gaza is run by Islamist group Hamas, while the West Bank is governed by the US-backed president, Mahmoud Abbas.

However, analysts say Hamas's popularity has risen as a result of its fight with Israel, while Abbas's has been dealt a blow.

Israel said it launched its air strikes against Gaza to halt repeated rocket attacks from the coastal enclave. More than 140 Palestinians and four Israelis have died in the conflict.
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