Palestinians Clash With IDF Soldiers Near Ramallah

Crowd gathers outside Ofer Prison near Ramallah to protest Israel's refusal to release prisoners; Israeli army says 5 Palestinians wounded while Palestinian sources say 13 wounded.

Several Palestinians were wounded on Friday in clashes with IDF soldiers outside Ofer Prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The IDF said that 5 Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets, while the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported that 13 Palestinians were wounded, four of them by live bullets.

According to witnesses, Israeli soldiers stationed at Ofer Prison also fired tear gas at the crowd, numbering some 200 people, and Palestinian protesters threw rocks at the troops.

The crowd began to gather outside the detention center after Friday prayers to protest Israel's refusal to release Palestinian prisoners.  

An Israeli army spokeswoman was quoted by Ma'an as saying that forces fired at "rioters" who threw rocks and burning tires at security forces. He added that five people were lightly wounded by riot-dispersal means.

On Thursday, Israel announced it will not release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners that were scheduled to be freed as part of negotiations over a framework peace deal. Israeli officials said that in light of Palestinians' application to 15 United Nations institutions, the release will not be carried out.

The freefall in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians began when Israel refused to free the 26 Palestinian security prisoners scheduled for release last Friday, citing the Palestinian Authority's refusal to first commit to extending the talks beyond their April 29 deadline.