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.
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.
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.
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.
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.