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'Day of Rage' protests across West Bank in support of hunger strikers

Israeli troops suppress the protests with live bullets, rubber-coated munitions, and tear gas, wounding dozens. 1,500 Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike to demand improved conditions, an end to administrative detention.

Israeli troops fire tear gas into a crowd of Palestinians protesting in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, Beita, Nablus region of the West Bank, April 28, 2017. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Israeli troops fire tear gas into a crowd of Palestinians protesting in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, Beita, Nablus region of the West Bank, April 28, 2017. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Thousands of Palestinians held protests in at least a dozen locations around the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Friday as part of a “day of rage” in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, some 1,500 of whom have refused food in Israeli prisons for the past 12 days.

Israeli military forces shot at least seven protesters with live bullets, according to Palestinian news agency Ma’an, and dozens others were wounded by rubber-coated bullets, being struck by projectile tear gas canisters, and tear gas inhalation.

Protests took place in Nabi Saleh, outside the Ofer military prison, in the city of Silwad, in Sinjil, at the Qalandiya checkpoint, in Bethlehem, the Nablus-area town of Beita, al-Naqura, Awarta, al-Arrub, Beit Ummar, at a checkpoint near Qalqilya, Jenin, and in Kafr Qaddum.

The day of rage followed a general strike in solidarity with the prisoners, which shut down commerce in Palestinian cities across the West Bank and in East Jerusalem on Thursday.

Palestinians throw stones toward Israeli soldiers during a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, Beita, Nablus region of the West Bank, April 28, 2017. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Palestinians throw stones toward Israeli soldiers during a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, Beita, Nablus region of the West Bank, April 28, 2017. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Smaller protests have been taking place on both sides of the Green Line for nearly two weeks, outside Israeli prisons and also in town and city centers.

At least 1,200 Palestinian prisoners are taking part in the now-12-day hunger strike, demanding improved conditions in Israeli prisons. Among the demands of the prisoners are: an end to administrative detention, more family visits and more phones for contacting family, access to education, and an end to the use of solitary confinement. Prisoners had access to many of the conditions now being demanded, but Israeli authorities revoked some of them as retribution for the 2006 capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and 2014 deadly kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers.

Individual hunger strikes have become more common in recent years, primarily undertaken by prisoners being held without charge or trial (in administrative detention), although larger groups of Palestinian prisoners have also launched larger hunger strikes over the years.

Palestinian shops in Nablus’s market are shuttered as part of a general strike called in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, Nablus, April 27, 2017. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian shops in Nablus’s market are shuttered as part of a general strike called in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, Nablus, April 27, 2017. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Civil rights group Adalah filed an emergency petition with the High Court of Justice on Thursday demanding that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) allow the hunger-striking prisoners visits with their lawyers; prison officials have been preventing them from meeting with attorneys as punishment for not eating. Preventing lawyer visits with prisoners as a punitive measure is a direct contradiction of previous Supreme Court rulings, the civil rights group said, and asked the court to hold the IPS in contempt of court.

Israeli authorities are also taking other punitive measures against the hunger-striking prisoners, ranging from solitary confinement to transfers between prisons to the confiscation of radios and salt from prisoners’ cells, Haaretz reported on Thursday.

Israel is currently holding some 6,500 Palestinians in its prisons, including over a dozen elected members of the Palestinian parliament, and hundreds of others who are being held in administrative detention. Israel uses administrative detention to imprison Palestinians without having to prove they committed a crime, without allowing them to defend themselves in court against sometimes secret accusations, and can be extended indefinitely. Some Palestinians have been held in administrative detention for years.

While a significant number of Palestinians in Israeli prisons are accused or have been convicted of acts of violence, both against occupying soldiers and against civilians, many others are imprisoned for nonviolent, inherently political acts of resistance.

In the February 2015 trial of nonviolent organizer Abdullah Abu Rahme, for instance, Israeli military prosecutors sought a long prison sentence in order to deter what they called “ideological crimes” of political protest. Under Israeli military law, all protest by Palestinians is illegal in the West Bank. Israeli settlers living in the same territory, however, have the right to protest.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, the Israeli military has detained or arrested some 800,000 Palestinians since the start of the military occupation 50 years ago — around 40 percent of the Palestinian male population in the territories.

Most of the prisons in which Israel holds Palestinian prisoners are outside the occupied territories, in Israel proper, another practice the hunger strikers are demanding an end to. Transferring prisoners outside of an occupied territory is a violation of international law.

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    1. Firentis

      You call that a day of rage? More like a day of mild disapproval. I remember the days when a day of rage actually meant something. Kids these days.. They go throw a couple of rocks and then right back to their Facebooks and Twitters. Oh, Palestinians, not what they used to be. Once when called upon there were tens of thousands of people in the streets. Now they are lucky to bring out “thousands”, which just means somewhere around a thousand across multiple points, so dozens or hundreds as a maximum at each point. A few selfies and a few choice photos for the foreign press and back to browsing social media for things to ‘like’. Oh the youth today. Sad. Just not willing to birukh bidam nafdeek ya falastin…

      Oh well. Lets see if we can get their spirits up. Ard Israel baladna wa alfalastiniyun… Anything? No? Back to Facebook? Oh dear. Looks like this Palestine thing is all out of gas.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        https://bdsmovement.net/news/historic-decision-barcelona-city-council-votes-end-complicity-israeli-occupation-illegal

        With this landmark decision, the Barcelona City Council joins more than 70 local authorities across the Spanish state that have adopted diverse measures to end local complicity in Israel’s regime of occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism. Tens of these local authorities have passed motions in support of the BDS movement for Palestinian rights and declared themselves “Apartheid Free Zones”….

        Reply to Comment
      • JeffB

        @Firentis

        That was funny 🙂 Good morning laugh

        Reply to Comment
      • carmen

        So if they’d gone on a violent rampage you’d like that better? Of course, then you can call them terrorists. What is it about peaceful gatherings that upsets some zionists so much? Violence is the only language zionists understand, that and הרבה הפלצות

        Reply to Comment
        • Firentis

          As long as the goals are violent the means don’t matter. These people are marching in support of terrorists. They deserve condemnation and contempt.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            They’re marching in support of civil rights. “Terrorist” in your employ has long since become an indiscriminate, incantatory shibboleth.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            They are marching in support of a hunger strike called for and led by convicted terrorists.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            If you say so. Magical incantations are like that. They work best when repeated many times.

            Reply to Comment
    2. JeffB

      @Bruce

      Eastern Spain hates Israel on paper. In practice they don’t do much as. We just saw with Gijon how seriously they take those declarations when acting on them would have negative impacts. So I’m not that worried. I do find it odd that you all are so worried about a few Le Pen statements which are hostile to Jewish historical narratives while governments that claim open proud hostility to Jews receive praise.

      You see something similar in the Mobile Word Conference (a 110k+ person conference held annually in Barcelona). There are a huge number of Israeli firms there, because Israel is a big player in mobile telco. They operate quite openly and their booths are visited, business is conducted. So there is no boycott. Yet unique among participants the Israeli flag doesn’t fly while human rights bastions like Saudi Arabia have their flags flying at the entrance.

      Insulting, bigoted, cruel absolutely. A genuine threat: no.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      According to the TV, several hundreds hunger strikers have stopped the strike today without any result…

      Reply to Comment
    4. i_like-ike52

      I wonder how much rage, or even moderate interest there is in the Palestinian “street” regarding the slaughter of their Arab/Muslim brothers in Syria, I can’t recall any angry demonstrations against the Russians, or the Syria gov’t, or ISIS for that matter…..wait, I forgot, the Joint Arab List party also refused to condemn Assad’s use of poison gas against the civilian population, including children. Well, I guess there is only so much “rage” in their reservoir. They apparently can’t be bothered.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ben

      You see, to the likes of Firentis, all violent protests are “terrorism” and he wants the “terrorists” dead without exception and if they are nonviolent protesters administratively detained he wants them dead too because any Palestinian behind bars is “a terrorist” too and makes Firentis very angry. (Firentis had his own little day of rage over on the other page by Michael Omer-Man covering the hunger strike.) And if they protest nonviolently? Well, then we make fun of them. Because to the likes of Firentis, no protest is acceptable. And violation of non-Jewish human rights is funny. The only thing acceptable is capitulation to apartheid and creeping annexation. And if you think all this is terribly wrong then JeffB will tell you that you “hate Israel.” And that you are “insulting, bigoted, cruel.” And that your “hostility” is not to brutal occupation and dispossession, it is “to Jews.” Natch. But, at the same time, you are too uptight about the French role in the Vel d’Hiv roundup and about French neo-fascists who are “hostile to Jewish historical narratives.” Naturellement. This is how propaganda is done by the Israeli far right. Behold. This is the incoherent, cramped little mental and moral world they inhabit. This is the level they operate on. But all you have to do is reread what Michael Omer-Man wrote in both articles on this subject and ascend to a much higher plane and you will see clearly that there are Israeli Jews who know what is really going on and who transcend gutter extremist nationalism and have respect for human beings and who you can admire and be proud of.

      Reply to Comment
      • Firentis

        To the likes of Ben someone trying to kill me is a freedom fighter. Someone who marches in the street calling to destroy my country is a peaceful protester. Someone who throws stones at Jews is a non-violent protester. And someone sitting in prison after being convicted of and admitting to killing Jews is a political prisoner.

        To the likes of Ben all “violent protest” is justified. Terrorism is always in quotes. The Palestinians can do no wrong and Israel can only be wrong. Prisoners in Israeli prisons even if convicted of killing Jews are deserving of such basic human rights as studying towards a PhD. And we should all be very concerned when they choose to throw a temper tantrum and voluntarily refuse to eat the food provided to them out of my tax money.

        Reply to Comment
        • carmen

          Nobody is calling for the destruction of ‘your’ country. The end of the occupation won’t destroy this country. There will be fanatics on all sides who’d rather destroy than share, but I’m pretty sure the lion’s share of the fanatics are right wing zionist terrorists. I’m afraid they would rather destroy the country and even the rest of the world, it’s nothing to most of them anyway, than to see a secular democratic state with equal rights for all replace the current racist zionist state.

          Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            Right darling. They just want to create a new country instead of mine with a different name, different official language, different official religion, different national holidays, and then will proceed to oppress me and my people as a persecuted minority like every other non-Muslim minority in the region. And my country will cease to exist. But they don’t want to destroy my country. Sure darling. Anything you say darling.

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            Gustav/AJew – SOS. Love ya lots! Lest you ferget ‘firentis’ ;^), it’s not just your country booboo.

            Reply to Comment
    6. Lewis from Afula

      They seem to have many days of rage don’t they?
      The crazy shooters and bombers in Paris, Stockholm, London et al., are also enraged often. No connection to Islam, is there?

      Reply to Comment
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