Palestinians rally to back Prisoners' Day hunger strike
As over 1,000 Palestianian prisoners started a hunger strike Tuesday, Palestinians joined of rallies across the West Bank. In Ramallah 500 marked what they have declared to be Prisoners' Day in a show of solidarity of Palestinians in Israeli jails.
The rally marked the beginning of a mass hunger strike by prisoners incarcerated in Israel, as well as in anticipation of the release of former high-profile hunger striker Khader Adnan.
The Israeli Prison Service estimated that 2,300 Palestinian prisoners refused their daily meal on Tuesday and 1,200 prisoners began an indefinite hunger strike.
Motasam Nowara said he was attending for his brother.
“He was taken when he was 16 years old. Now his age is 28. He was under age when they took him. They have taken him … all his life in the prison.”
Issam Bakr, Foreign Secretary of the Palestinian Prisoners Committee, spoke of Israel’s potential reaction to the mass hunger strike:
“Israel doesn’t feel comfortable of [sic] these steps, even if it was one individual hunger strike, but as I say 1,600 prisoners are running for that, so they will push, they will try to break this by violence if they can: they’re worried, they didn’t know what to do.”
Some protesters went on to the entrance to Ofer Prison, west of Ramallah, where confrontations with the Israeli army (IDF) were met with sound bombs, tear gas and the chemical sewage solution “skunk”.
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad backed out of a meeting with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, concerned about the effect on his public image of meeting on Prisoners Day. PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erakat went in his place.
As part of their Tuesday meeting, the Palestinian cabinet called on the United Nations to pressure Israel into releasing all 4,600 Palestinian detainees.