Palestinians Met by Israeli Forces as Solidarity Marches Continued on 33rd Consecutive Day of Hunger Strike

19 May
5:44 PM

As some 1,800 Palestinian detainees entered a critical phase on Friday, in the 33rd day of their hunger strike in Israeli jails, Palestinians made calls to continue solidarity marches and sit-ins across the West Bank.

The Media Committee of the Freedom and Dignity Strike called on Palestinians to organize solidarity marches and to crowd in sit-in tents and public squares in various West Bank districts.

According to a press statement, Palestinians would crowd in sit-in tents in al-Hussein Stadium in Hebron city, Manger’s Square in Bethlehem, Beit Dajan town, east of Nablus, Aqabet Jaber refugee camp, southwest of Jericho, Ramallah and al-Bireh, and Jenin.

WAFA reports that around 1,800 out of 6,500 Palestinians held by Israel launched a mass indefinite hunger strike on April 17, only consuming salt and water during the strike, without additives or supplements, to pressure Israel to improve their prison conditions.

Initially called for by Fateh-affiliated prisoners, most notably imprisoned senior Fatah official Marwan Barghouthi, the strike has been joined by other prisoners from various Palestinian political factions.

The hunger strikers’ demands are basic and can hardly be described as political. They include reinstating bimonthly family visits, better medical treatment, and the right to education.

Hunger strikers are also calling for an end to Israel’s widely-condemned policy of “administrative detention”, which allows the imprisonment of individuals on “secret evidence” for without trial or charge for six-month intervals that can be renewed indefinitely.

Many Palestinians have gone on hunger strike to protest their administrative detention, raising fears that Israel would force-feed them, a practice that violates human rights standards. Some have managed to pressure Israel into releasing them, although some have been re-detained.

Clashes broke out on Friday, between Israeli forces and Palestinians, when the former attacked nonviolent Palestinian protesters marching in solidarity with the hunger-striking detainees.

Hundreds of Palestinians took part in the march, leading to clashes in more than one location in Qalqilia governorate.

A Palestinian youth was shot and injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet, on Friday, and others suffocated from tear gas inhalation when Israeli forces attacked Palestinians marching in Hebron city and the nearby Beit Ummar town in solidarity with the hunger strikers, said local sources.

Similar marches were witnessed across various West Bank districts.

Israeli forces  attacked the weekly peaceful march held in Nilin village, west of Ramallah, to protest Israeli settlement activities, land expropriation, and the separation wall, said a local activist.

Member of the popular committee against the apartheid wall in Nilin, Mohammed ‘Emerah, said Israeli forces violently suppressed the rally, firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas canisters against the protesters to disperse them.

Dozens of protesters suffocated due to tear gas inhalation. They were all treated at the scene.

Forces also briefly detained two Israeli solidarity activists, one of whom is a journalist, before releasing them.

Israeli special undercover units dressed as civilians, on Friday, kidnapped six Palestinian youth, during clashes that erupted at the northern entrance of Bethlehem city, in the southern West Bank, according to security sources.

Soldiers fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters toward the residents, however, no injuries were reported.

At least three Palestinians Friday were shot and injured with live bullets, fired by Israeli forces toward Palestinians marching near contacts points to the east, south, and north of the Gaza Strip, in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, said sources.

Israeli forces stationed at military watchtowers along the borders with Israel opened live fire toward Palestinians marching at contacts points along the eastern, southern, and northern borders of the Strip, shooting and injuring at least three Palestinians.

They were transferred to hospital for medical treatment, where their conditions were described as moderate.

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IMEMC News & Agencies

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