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Israel Sends Funds to Palestinians in Bid to Cut Tension

Israel has approved the transfer of tax revenue it collects on behalf of the Palestinians in a bid to reduce tensions in the West Bank after a week of demonstrations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded the Palestinian leadership take steps to reduce the protests, according to a text message sent to journalists today by an Israeli government official. The message to the Palestinians was conveyed by Netanyahu’s chief envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, according to the official, who commented anonymously because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the record.

Demonstrations have been held throughout the week in the West Bank in support of four Palestinian prisoners hunger-striking to gain early release from Israeli jails. The protests intensified after Israel announced yesterday that another prisoner had died, with over 3,000 jailed Palestinians holding a one-day hunger strike today.

Palestinian Minister of Prisoners Issa Qaraqi said Israel was responsible for the prisoner’s death “due to medical negligence and bad treatment.” He added that the prisoner had been subjected to “severe torture.” An independent international committee should be formed to investigate the circumstances, Qaraqi said in a Ramallah press conference today.

The Israeli Health Ministry issued a statement saying its autopsy of the body found no signs of external violence other than those caused by attempts at resuscitation.

Israeli troops used tear gas and stun-grenades to disperse crowds of stone-throwing Palestinians in and around the West Bank city of Hebron today, said an Israeli army spokeswoman, speaking anonymously in accordance with military regulations.

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