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Palestinians clash with IDF at demonstrations in support of hunger strikers

Hundreds of Palestinian took part today in demonstrations in solidarity  with Palestinian prisoners, specifically those administrative detainees on hunger strike. Dozens were lightly wounded from tear gas inhalation, and several from live ammunition.

Clashes outside Ofer prison (Yotam Ronen / Activestills)

Clashes outside Ofer prison (Yotam Ronen / Activestills)

The main protest today occurred outside Ofer Prison, just outside Ramallah, in support of Samer Issawi, who has not eaten since July 29, 2012, along with the rest of the Palestinians on hunger strike. Hundreds of Palestinians, including MK Ahmad Tibi, Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghouti and Islamic leader Sheikh Raed Salah gathered near Ofer at noon for a Friday prayer before marching toward the prison,some  confronting army forces with stones. Forces made extensive use of tear gas canisters, injuring many, and also shot live ammunition, sending at least two demonstrators to the hospital. A Palestinian journalist was also wounded, according to several reports.

Tear gas outside Ofer prison (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Tear gas outside Ofer prison (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Similar yet somewhat calmer demonstrations also took place near the Jalame checkpoint in Jenin and around the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended a protest tent in Ramallah and gave a speech about the importance of releasing prisoners as part of the Palestinian struggle.

Scouts supporting prisoners in Jenin (Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills)

Scouts supporting prisoners in Jenin (Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills)

The popular weekly demonstrations against the wall and settlements, attended by Israelis and internationals every Friday, were dedicated to solidarity with the prisoners. In Qaddum, four people were injured from being hit by tear gas canisters, reportedly shot at a direct trajectory. In Nabi Saleh one teenage girl was injured by rubber-coated bullets. In Ma’asara demonstrators broke through the line of soldiers regularly stationed at the entrance to the village and made it to the settlement of Efrat, where confrontations broke out with local settlers and security guards. In Bil’in some two dozen demonstrators marched to the wall, and were scattered by tear gas and “skunk” water.

Demonstrator overlooking wall and settlement in Bil'in (Haggai Matar)

Demonstrator overlooking wall and settlement in Bil’in (Haggai Matar)

Administrative detainees are held in prison without any charges being brought against them, on the sole accusation that they pose potential threats to the security of the country. In recent years, several such detainees went on prolonged hunger strikes, and were eventually released. Most famous were the cases of Khader Adnan, Hana Shalabi, and footballer Mahmoud Sarsak. Last year, the power of prisoner hunger strikes grew as thousands joined in strike to better prison conditions. Issawi, who has been on a hunger strike for 200 days, according to reports, is the longest of them all and physicians fear for his life.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. A man who has not eaten for near 200 days is no threat to the country. An action of this kind has undoubtedly changed him. How, we don’t know. Releasing him would open the door to finding out. It would also show respect for this resolve which harms only him. His release would be hard won. Winning must have meaning for all sides. A zero sum game perpetuates the present. Risk a little. See where it leads. Admit you don’t know where that where is.

      Reply to Comment
      • Shmuel

        “Releasing him would open the door to finding out.”

        Remember Gittmo Greg? Go give your fellow Americans the same advice.

        Reply to Comment
        • Shmuel

          …. Did I hear you saying that you have? And they haven’t listened to your sage advice? Not even Obama?

          Aha, that’s why you are here preaching to us? Well then, what makes you think that WE will listen?

          Reply to Comment
    2. rsgengland

      Releasing hunger strikers, irrespective of the reason for their incarceration, serves as a precedent, and encourages more of the same.
      Releasing hunger strikers during protests, for whatever reason, is viewed by the protestors as victory, and leads to further protests.
      Whichever way Israel goes, it is a messy bussines.
      I am of the opinion that hunger strikers, where ever they are in the world, should be kept alive by some form of feeding (either by drip or some other method, but under strict supervision).

      Reply to Comment
      • Well, you can always force a tube down the throat and feed them that way; this was done to women jailed agitating for the vote, then refusing to eat, in the UK (probably US too). The autonomy of the individual in this area should be sacrosanct. It is very hard to go without food so long, although I think there comes a point where one does not want to eat. Force feeding is just another way to make the individual into something he isn’t. Prison checks autonomy but does not remove it internally. Now you want to do that, too. A good definition of occupation as outcome.

        I have no doubt I would not like some of these fasters. The resolve needed to fast so long may have begun in intense revulsion and anger at Israelis. But these fasts show how strong the spirit can be, how autonomous outcome can be clawed through will. These men have gone where we will not, harming no one but themselves. We need to hear their whys, and what they may have found along this isolate path.

        It is standard Israeli corporate defense to claim that the opponent, when not acting as requied, hurts Israel, so must be forced. There is no way a common life solution can be found–on any side–employing such logic. Yes, there will be harm to Israel if these men die. Be amazed; in control, you are not in control. This is where all of us must begin.

        Reply to Comment
        • Shmuel

          “It is standard Israeli corporate defense to claim that the opponent, when not acting as requied, hurts Israel”

          And ONLY Israel is like that eh Greg? You Americans are not? The Arab regimes are not? The Brits are not?

          Gitmo, Greg, just remember Gitmo. And you haven’t got Bush to blame it on now. You have Obama.

          Reply to Comment
          • I seem to have hit a nerve; progress. I think Gitmo is a major mistake. Although I am an American citizen by birth, this does not impell me to approve of any State decision, President or otherwise. There have been suicides in Gitmo, and there is shame in that.

            Exactly why this nullifies thought on this post escapes me. The question is not what your neighbor is doing, but what you are doing. Politics as the silencing of others will not work.

            I stand by what I have said, above. I also refer you to SH, below.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “Exactly why this nullifies thought on this post escapes me. The question is not what your neighbor is doing, but what you are doing. Politics as the silencing of others will not work.”

            You are right Greg. But will you do me the honour and answer the following question which mistifies ME in turn?

            Given that as an American, you don’t approve of Gitmo, why do you spend all your days preaching to us? Instead of putting in an effort to FIX your own house FIRST?

            Reply to Comment
          • Zephon

            Because American money is going into your state; that gives him a say in what you do with his countries money. It’s not a small amount of money either when you pull up the data and years of accumulation. Think of what all that cash could do for just Americas infrastructure alone – and yet it’s being given to you. If you don’t like that fact; then by all means cut all US AID to Israel – including Military AID. Since it’s American money spent on, hardware, labor and American soldiers that train and weaponize yours. Oh you won’t do that? Well then Greg doesn’t have to stop either. In fact Greg might be Jewish – did that even occur to you? Do Jews no longer have a voice or are you simply disregarding the fact that Jewish voices are the loudest when criticizing Israel?

            Reply to Comment
          • What Zephon said.

            I would add that the trajectory of justice in Israel/Palestine is important to the world, and may well show the world something new. I adhere to your Declaration of Independence, and urge that it be implemented. Whatever the combined fate of Israel and the Bank, the Israeli constitution will be crucial. This fight is about the evolution of law generally.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            .
            “I would add that the trajectory of justice in Israel/Palestine is important to the world”

            No more than the trajectory of justice in America. If you disagree what YOUR country does, then you are duty bound to your own people to fix that first and foremost.

            By the way, IMHO you are wrong about Gitmo too. But that is not the point. If you believe that your country is wrong about Gitmo, as an American citizen, you are duty bound to fight for what YOU believe is justice. Otherwise you are letting your country down.

            Weren’t you the one who said this?

            “The question is not what your neighbor is doing, but what you are doing.”

            Reply to Comment
    3. sh

      “Administrative detainees are held in prison without any charges being brought against them, on the sole accusation that they pose potential threats to the security of the country.”
      This is the whole point. If you are imprisoned, you should know why and for how long and so should your family. They have not been tried, no-one except whoever decided to detain them knows why or for how long.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Shmuel

      “Beause American money is going into your state; that gives him a say in what you do with his countries money.”

      ROFL, you are kidding right?

      All he does is he pays taxes. So do millions of Americans who support Israel. And their opinion is different to Greg’s.

      He also says that he is against Gitmo yet Obama ignores him. He has one vote. That’s the only say that he has.

      And my question still stands. If he is against what his own country does in Gitmo. Why is he spending every day obsessing about Israel, instead of fixing up his own country first?

      I think that is a fair question.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Zephon

      Because he might also be Jewish? Like a lot of us in the Diaspora? It’s not a secret that Jewish voice is the loudest critic of Israel and Israelis – and it’s only getting louder.

      And because his own county can focus on foreign as well as domestic policy – so can he. So long as his government has the right to do just that and take such an active dominant role in world affairs – so does he.

      It’s not as if Israelis don’t do that either. Bibi spent more time OUTSIDE of Israel than actually in it and during his reelection – he went to America for support not to Israeli households.

      The entire world focuses on each other it that’s just the consequence of being a digital world. You can no longer act in complete anonymity; and expect the world to not be in your face about it no matter who you are – even North Korea. It’s not just an Israeli thing.

      Greg might very well be Jewish and even if he weren’t – he still has a say. But if you really want him to focus on his own home? Cut all aid and let his government spent all that money and hardware on it’s people.

      But we both know that won’t happen.

      These are time we live in.

      Reply to Comment

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