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Israeli forces arrested a leading Palestinian protest organizer on Thursday in what activists said was a sign of Israel's concern over plans for more demonstrations in the West Bank.

Mohammed Khatib was taken into custody in a pre-dawn raid, said a statement by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee which he heads.

The Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who opposes violence against Israel, wants more "popular resistance" against Israel's West Bank settlement policies.

Activists say Israeli security forces stepped up arrests last month in an effort to nip the campaign in the bud.

Khatib helps organize protests against a barrier Israel is building in the West Bank, which often turn violent.

Israel says the barrier, which at points reaches deep into territory it occupied in 1967, is needed to prevent attacks by Palestinians on Israelis. Palestinians say it takes their land and disrupts their lives.

The Israeli army says its policy on dealing with demonstrations has not changed. It says some are deliberately turned violent by the protesters.