Agence France Presse (AFP)
December 19, 2008 - 1:00am

Demonstrators hurled their shoes at Israeli security forces on Friday in a protest against the West Bank separation barrier, following in the footprints of a now famous Iraqi journalist.

Similar protests in the past near the village of Bilin have often ended with young Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli troops who generally respond by firing tear gas and rubber-coated bullets.

This time, many of the 500 or so protesters hurled shoes instead in tribute to the journalist who made international headlines and was jailed for throwing his footwear at US President George W. Bush in Baghdad.

"We want to demonstrate our support to Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi and say that like the Iraqis, we are opposed to the occupation," one of the organisers of the protest told AFP.

Palestinian and foreign activists regularly gather at the West Bank village to protest against the Israeli barrier.

Israel says the barrier, a projected 723 kilometres (454 miles) of steel and concrete walls, fences and barbed wire, is needed for security, while Palestinians view it as a land grab that undermines their promised state.

To date Israel has built about 57 percent of the barrier, most of it inside the West Bank.


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