In solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikes, demonstrators block UN employees from entering Ramallah offices to protest inaction.
Palestinian demonstrators staged a sit-in at the entrance to the United Nations offices in Ramallah Wednesday morning to protest inaction by the international body on behalf of the approximately 2,000 Palestinian prisoners now on hunger strike.
The sit-in, which was organized by the group Palestinians for Dignity, prevented UN employees from entering the offices in order to raise international awareness and bring about some type of action. In the early morning a small group of 20-30 people made up of the family members of prisoners, supporters and other activists attended the demonstration calling for protection from the UN instead of more aid.
PA security forces were deployed in the area. There were reports of threats in the beginning of the protest from security but no actual clashes have taken place.
Protests in support of the prisoners have been happening every day now for weeks, despite the hunger strikes having received very little media attention and virtually no response from governments around the world, including the United Nations. On Tuesday, another sit-in was staged in front of the Palestinian Authority presidential offices to protest inaction by the government.
Two prisoners, Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab, have passed the 70-day mark of their hunger strikes and could die at any time. Several others are close behind. Approximately 2,000 prisoners launched a collective hunger strike on April 17 in conjunction with the independent hunger strikes already taking place since Khader Adnan began his on December 18.
On Monday, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected appeals by Halahleh and Diab for release from their administrative detention, in which they are held without charge or trial. The court’s decision has made the deaths of the prisoners very likely and it is difficult to predict what the public response to such an outcome will be.
Similar protests were reported to have taken place Wednesday at the UN offices in Jerusalem and Geneva. A small protest on the issue of hunger strikes was conducted at the gates to Tel Aviv University, as well.