At the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Israeli ambassador Eviatar Manor stated that the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails defines the Jewish state’s attitude towards peace. “Their release, I believe, illustrates Israel’s determination to reach an agreement with our Palestinian neighbours that will, once and for all, end the conflict.” As usual, Israel’s discourse contains various illusions, including references to ‘conflict’, which implies no hegemonic disparity between both parties.
Reference to Palestinians as ‘neighbours’ and human rights violation as ‘conflict’ portrays the manipulative use of language to distort the reality of a colonisation project which has prevailed for decades. There is no conflict between Palestinians and Israel, which renders the concept of negotiations a convenient farce for the belligerent occupation and its allies – a project of alienation which is easily converted into fodder for consumers of corporate media. In discourse which would reflect the ongoing situation, Israel should be depicted as the epitome of colonialism – an illegal state which has plundered land, people and resources to sustain fabrications of nationhood and the right to land. In place of negotiations, the international community should be clamouring for Israel to be held accountable and face the ramifications of accountability, including the dismantling of illegalities which would allow Palestinians to reclaim and assert their rights over land and nationhood.
Israel’s participation in the UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review comes after vehement rejection of the council’s alleged bias against the occupying power. The indefinite boycott of the session was discussed in May by deputy foreign minister Ze’ev Elkin, who agreed to diplomatic discussions while “ensuring that fair play and international standards are applied towards Israel”. A Jerusalem Post opinion article about the UNHRC expounds upon the alleged bias against Israel, stating that “The majority of its 47 members are from the third World, which not only guarantees massive anti-Israel bias but makes mockery of human rights”. What it fails to mention is that Third World countries have experienced the ramifications of colonialism and exploitation, camouflaged within the West as implementation of forced democracy through various forms of intervention sanctioned by governments who are never held accountable for their crimes against humanity.
While the debate focused on Israel’s appalling treatment of Palestinians, including that of Bedouins in the Negev, Israel attempted to manipulate the discourse away from the wider framework by concentrating on the prisoner release and portraying the decision as a commitment towards peace, despite the state’s preoccupation with security concerns which, according to Manor, ‘strain the delicate balance between effective steps necessary to overcome the various threats to a state’s security and the protection of human rights”.
The release of Palestinian prisoners has been transformed into nothing more than a bargaining over land compensated with lives which Israel deems expendable. While their freedom is undoubtedly cherished by Palestinians, official rhetoric from Israeli and Palestinian representation has created an additional realm where negotiations are equivalent to prisoner release. Abbas recently declared that the Israeli concept of life in prison has deteriorated, yet nothing is uttered regarding the continuous usurpation of Palestinian land. While Netanyahu triumphantly approves further illegal settlement construction as ‘compensation’ for releasing Palestinian prisoners, Abbas remains committed to relinquishing Palestine in return for freedom which can be easily revoked within Israel’s system of administrative detention.
Palestinians of all political persuasions welcomed the release of 26 prisoners last night. They are the first of 104 pre-Oslo life prisoners due to be released over the next nine months as long as Israel is satisfied with the progress of its negotiations with the PLO/PA. Incredibly, these 104 prisoners now slated to be freed should have been released 20 years ago according to the terms of the Oslo Accords, so it is not such a big concession for Israel to be releasing them now.
Despite the overwhelming euphoria that marked the occasion, that joy remains incomplete because there are still an estimated 4,800 other Palestinians behind bars in Israel. An additional 1,267 Palestinians are held in Israel Prison Service facilities for being in Israel illegally. However, Palestinian prisoners are not just statistics. Israel regards criminal prisoners and political detainees alike; they are all criminals in its eyes. With a stronger Palestinian leadership capable of exercising real leverage at the negotiating table, there would be cause to be hopeful about this release. Sadly, this is not the case; the PA’s negotiators are dependent on their misplaced trust in American “impartiality” and Israeli “goodwill”. Decades of concessions have got the Palestinians nowhere.
While the Israelis continue to hold thousands of Palestinians in detention because they are “terrorists” with “blood on their hands”, not a single Israeli is held in a Palestinian jail despite the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed by Israelis; presumably Israeli hands are regarded as clean.
The issue of the Palestinian prisoners is one that evokes an unquestioned national consensus. It affects every strata of society. Whether they were imprisoned before Oslo or after, they have all suffered. Fuad Al-Khouffash, the head of the Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights based in Nablus, says that there are about 500 prisoners serving life sentences.
Over 650,000 Palestinians have been detained and imprisoned since the beginning of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967. This represents almost 20 per cent of the total Palestinian population in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
When asked to explain this abnormally high incidence of incarceration, Palestinians insist that they were only defending their land and freedom. Earlier this month, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni confirmed the importance of land in the equation when she told Israeli Radio that she prefers a prisoner release deal rather than the possibility of resuming peace talks based on the June 1967 borders. Freeing a few prisoners, it appears, is much easier than withdrawing from the occupied and colonised territories.
To the same degree, land is also the overarching issue for the Palestinians. While they all value the release of their loved ones from Israeli prisons, it must not be at any price. If it means giving up their land they would much rather remain behind bars. Nazareth-born Karim Younis, who has been on a life-sentence since 1983, is regarded by many prisoners as their dean. He wrote in a letter from Hadrim Prison this week: “We never thought in our wildest dreams or nightmares that the issue of the pre-Oslo prisoners would be turned into a blackmail card in the hands of the Israelis and a sword on the necks of the Palestinian negotiators. We reject that categorically and we prefer to remain in the graves of the living rather than be used as an instrument in the hands of our enemy to blackmail our leaders.”
Contrary to the recommendation of the internal intelligence agency Shabak, Israel’s ministerial council responsible for identifying those to be released refused to free 40 prisoners described as posing no threat to Israel’s security. They were substituted by others identified by the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The Israelis conceded this point allegedly to strengthen Abbas’s domestic position.
Every one of the prisoners has a history and a record of struggle. They are not mere numbers. Yet the new releases ignore these truths and condition their freedom on two grounds; that they do not pose a threat to the Israeli establishment and the degree to which their release will strengthen the hand of Mahmoud Abbas among his people. With Israeli settlement activity in accelerated mode the PA has little to justify its decision to return to the negotiating table. Apart from Abbas’s Fatah movement all of the other Palestinian political groups oppose the resumption of talks while Israel’s conquest and colonial-settlement of land continues.
After the well-deserved celebrations for the freed prisoners are over, Palestinians will realise that there is a still a heavy price to be paid. It is not just the resumption of negotiations with the Israelis but rather the continued occupation and settlement expansion on their land as well as the Judaisation of Jerusalem. Indeed, the mere fact that the negotiators are meeting in occupied Jerusalem is in itself recognition of Israel’s claim to the city.
With American mediation, the most the Palestinians can reasonably hope for is to emerge with a promise of financial support on condition that they continue to protect Israel’s colony-settlements in the West Bank. After all the sacrifices the prisoners have made over the years the best tribute the Palestinian Authority can make in their honour and for the sake of their national status is to withdraw from the negotiations. Abbas knows that they are leading to nowhere but humiliation.
Tubas, Occupied Palestine – Last Tuesday Sireen Sawafteh, a 24 year old woman from Tubas, was detained by Israeli forces. She is currently being held in Al Jalameh, an Israeli prison. Her family and friends fear for her safety. She has been denied access to a lawyer and she has not been allowed to make any contact with her loved ones since her arrest.
At around 3pm last Tuesday Sireen’s car was stopped at a temporary checkpoint on the road between Nablus and Tubas in the West Bank. After brief questioning by Israeli forces she was detained. The second person in the car was also detained.
In the early hours on Wednesday, Israeli forces raided Sireen’s family home whilst her father Khalid Sawafteh, her mother, three brothers, sisters in law and their two young children were sleeping. Twenty-five army jeeps entered the town of Tubas. Twenty officers entered the home and over one hundred remained in the street cornering off the house. The family and young children were all taken into one room whilst their home was ransacked. Israeli soldiers took all the computers in the house leaving Sireen’s relatives in shock.
Tubas is located in Area A as designated under the Oslo Accords, an agreement drawn up between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government. ‘Legally’ it is under total Palestinian civil and military control. Israeli civilians and military are prohibited to enter Area A and any incursion into this area is considered a breach of this agreement. Despite this, Israeli forces have continue to carry out ‘operations’ in Area A.
The illegal incursion on Wednesday morning sparked protests in Tubas. Israeli forces fired tear gas and sound grenades at local residents as they gathered. Omar Abed al-Razaq, a 20 year old local university student from Nablus, was injured. He is in a serious but stable condition in Nablus Hospital. He has lost some of his fingers and is currently unable to communicate with his visitors. The full extent of his injuries are not yet known. The head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society in Tubas, Mahmud Sawafteh, denounced Israel’s continuous raids, which he says causes ‘fear and panic among residents (1).’
Since her detention, Sireen has been forcibly transferred out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories to an Israeli prison in Haifa located in the north of Israel, a practice illegal under international law.
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the cccupying power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive”. While Article 76 states clearly that ‘protected persons accused of offenses shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein”.
Last Thursday, lawyers acting for Sireen tried to visit the prison inside Israel where she is being held. They were refused entry. She appeared in court on Monday with her hands and legs shackled. The spurious charge was internet activism, creating a Facebook page which is considered a ‘threat’ to the ‘security’ of the region.
Sireen is active in the non violent campaign for human rights in Palestine. She studied computer science at the Open University in Tubas. During her studies she was actively involved in a twinning project between Tubas and the University of Sussex, England. She took part in a delegation of students which visited the UK from Palestine to strengthen links and foster friendships.
Rashed Kahled, Sireen’s older brother said; ‘We in the family are very concerned for Sireen and we would love her to be returned to us soon. My mother is very sad and fears for Sireen, she cannot sleep. How can we be at peace? We do not know what is happening and we are not allowed to see her.’
Many Palestinian women prisoners suffer abuse during their detention. Palestinian women prisoners are often kept in the same cells as Israeli female convicts. This practice often leads to female Palestinian prisoners being humiliated, suffering from threats and assault perpetrated with impunity by the Israel prisoners.
Adameer, a Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organisation reports that Palestinian women prisoners ‘are subjected to some form of psychological torture and ill-treatment throughout the process of their arrest and detention, including various forms of sexual violence that occur such as beatings, insults, threats, body searches, and sexually explicit harassment. Upon arrest, women detainees are not informed where they are being taken and are rarely explained their rights during interrogation. These techniques of torture and ill-treatment are used not only as means to intimidate Palestinian women detainees, but also as tools to humiliate Palestinian women and coerce them into giving confessions (2).’
Sireen was in court for the second time this Wednesday. The judge extended her detention for a further 6 days. She will appear again on Monday, when it is possible her detention will be further extended.
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- Israel renews administrative detention of 11 Palestinians (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Inhuman: Israeli abuse of Palestinian children in prison ‘systematic’ says UN report (sott.net)
Al-Tadamun human rights organisation said on Tuesday that the Israeli occupation has renewed the administrative detention of 11 Palestinians, including a former hunger striker and two Palestinian lawmakers.
The administrative detention order against Samer al-Barq, 39, from Jayous village in Qalqilya was renewed for six months. Al-Barq went on a hunger strike in April 2012 for 120 days. On November 23, 2012, he ended his hunger strike after he was promised he would be released and deported to Egypt.
With the renewal of the order against al-Barq’s, Al-Tadamun advocate, Osama Maqboul, accused the Israeli occupation of breaching pledges of release and deportation. Others whose administrative detention orders have been renewed include members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mahmoud al-Ramahi and Basim al-Za’areer. Both were detained at November, 2012.
The Israeli occupation renewed the administrative detention of another eight Palestinians from various cities and villages across the occupied West Bank. Many Palestinian prisoners have recently gone on hunger strike in protest against administrative detention which is a military detention order issued on no apparent basis.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian prisoner from Gaza, Ashraf al-Sabbah, announced the beginning of his hunger strike in protest at the poor health conditions he must endure as a result of the Israeli prison services’ refusal to give him proper medication.
- Call to Action: Join Addameer’s Global End Administrative Detention Campaign! (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Administrative detainees to start a hunger strike at the beginning of June (ramyabdeljabbar.wordpress.com)
Deceased Palestinian prisoner Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh had been stricken with cancer for ‘years’ and was treated with improper medication, official doctors from the Palestinian Authority and Jordan have found.
Israeli doctors did not stop Abu Hamdiyeh’s cancer from spreading, although he had been complaining of bodily pains since 2003, Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe said Thursday as he announced the results of an autopsy.
The 64 year old former Fatah member succumbed to oesophageal cancer on Tuesday. More than 6,000 Palestinians, reported to include all factions, poured into the streets of Hebron for his funeral.
Prison authorities disclosed his diagnosis in February, and said they tried to secure his release shortly after.
A statement from the Israeli Prison Service after his death said: “The prisoner was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in February and was under the medical supervision of experts at the hospital. About a week ago, after being diagnosed as terminal, the IPS appealed to the release committee to secure his early release, a process which had been started but not yet concluded.”
Lawyers and relatives report that prison doctors ran biopsy tests on him in 2012 but refused to inform him of his disease.
“Instead of providing him with the correct treatment, the doctors gave him flu shots that caused severe pain in his chest, which he could hardly sleep after,” said Abu Hamdiyeh’s lawyer al-Alami.
His sister Itidal told an online magazine that she visited him in January, one month before his official diagnosis, and found that his voice was completely gone.
Angered by Abu Hamdiyeh’s death, the entire Palestinian prisoner population refused their morning meal Wednesday, according to a statement by the IPS, and the Palestinian Authority announced a three-day general strike across the West Bank.
Abu Hamdiyeh is the second Palestinian to die in Israeli custody this year. Arafat Jaradat, 30, died after an interrogation session in February. Palestinian officials said he had been tortured, an allegation Israel denied.
Two Palestinian youths shot dead
Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian youths in Tulkarem, officials said Thursday, heightening tension ahead of Abu Hamdiyeh’s funeral.
Palestinian security officials said Amer Nassar, 17, was killed by shots to the head. According to AFP, the body of his 18-year-old cousin, Naji Balbisi, was discovered at the site at dawn on Thursday with wounds to the chest.
However, Palestine’s Ma’an News Agency reports that Israeli forces detained Balbisi’s for several hours, and then at 4 a.m., handed the body to a Red Crescent ambulance.
Both teenagers were to be buried after midday prayers.
The Israeli army said troops opened fire at rioters who hurled petrol bombs at a military post at Tulkarem late on Wednesday, as violent protests erupted in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority called for a general strike Tuesday after the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh in an Israeli jail.
Following mass protests in the West Bank over the death of Abu Hamdiyeh, Israeli planes had gone into action on Tuesday, targeting what the military described as “two extensive terror sites in the northern Gaza Strip.”
Hours after it launched its first air strikes in the Palestinian enclave in four months, the Israeli military said two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip struck the southern town of Sderot on Wednesday morning, causing no casualties.
Fighters in the Gaza Strip early Thursday fired a mortar shell across the border, the army confirmed, adding that there were no casualties or damage.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had issued a stern warning, saying: “If calm is disrupted, we will respond forcefully.”
- Gaza fighters launch retaliatory strikes over prisoner’s death (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Gaza fighters fired retaliatory strikes on Tuesday, hours after the death in custody of a Palestinian who was denied appropriate cancer treatment, witnesses and the Israeli military said.
Witnesses told AFP that militants in Gaza City had fired three mortar rounds, but the army said only one projectile had landed, without causing any casualties.
Meanwhile, over 40 Palestinians angered by the death of Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh, 64, were injured in clashes with Israeli police and prison guards. Riots are believed to have swept through Israeli prisons, while guards used live fire and tear gas against the protesters.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP that the faction was watching the developments with “the greatest concern” and that Israel would “regret its continuing crimes”.
The last time Gaza fighters launched rocket fire was on March 21 during a visit by US President Barack Obama, when two rockets landed causing some damage but no injuries.
Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh’s death threatened to raise tensions in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, after reports surfaced that Israeli authorities had denied care to the prisoner. Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe likened Israel’s handling of Abu Hamdiyeh’s condition to a “slow death penalty.”
Israeli authorities claim they informed Abu Hamdiyeh, 64, of his illness in February, however, prisoner’s rights groups say the diagnosis occurred in August 2012. His lawyers and relatives report that Israeli doctors ran biopsies on him after he repeatedly complained of throat pains.
Palestinians have held several protests in recent weeks in support of more than 7,000 prisoners in Israeli jails, including over 300 children.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel had ignored long-standing pleas to free Abu Hamdiyeh, 64, sentenced to life in prison in 2002 for recruiting a bomber who planted explosives in a Jerusalem cafe. The bomb did not detonate.
“The Israeli government in its intransigence and arrogance refused to respond to Palestinian efforts to save the life of the prisoner,” Abbas told members of his Fatah party in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Abu Hamdiyeh is the second Palestinian to die in Israeli custody this year. Arafat Jaradat, 30, died after an interrogation session in February. Palestinian officials said he had been tortured, an allegation Israel denied.
News of Abu Hamdiyeh’s death touched off protests by Palestinian inmates in several Israeli prisons. At Ramon jail, in southern Israel, inmates threw objects at guards, who fired tear gas at them, the Prisons Service spokeswoman said.
Three prisoners and six guards were treated at the jail for tear gas inhalation, she said.
In Abu Hamdiyeh’s West Bank home city of Hebron, masked stone-throwers confronted Israeli soldiers. No serious injuries were reported.
Israel holds 178 Palestinians in administrative detention, who have been jailed without trial as suspected militants for renewable three- to six-month terms based on classified evidence.
Hundreds of sick Palestinians are perishing in Israeli jails, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister and activists. The Palestinian Prisoners Club says some 25 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel are suffering from cancer.
Palestinians are expected to hold strikes across the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset have issued strongly worded condemnations of the Israeli government over Abu Hamdiyeh’s deah.
Rights groups, as well as Qaraqe, described Abu Hamdiyeh’s eight-hour trips to and from the hospital as hellish. He was transported in a corrugated metal van with no windows or seats.
The Palestinian Authority said they expected him to be released on Monday. Israel’s refusal to free Abu Hamdiyeh had sparked protests in several Israeli prisons, where 17 detainees have begun a hunger strike.
In recent weeks, Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad made intense efforts to secure Abu Hamdiyeh’s release in the light of his deteriorating health.
(Al-Akhbar, Reuters, AFP)
Israel arrested the brother of former-Palestinian prisoner Ayman Sharawneh in the West Bank early Monday just hours after the long-term hunger striker was released from Israeli prison and deported to the Gaza Strip, Ma’an News Agency reported.
Israeli forces raided the home of Jihad Sharawneh, 24, at dawn Monday in Deir Samir, southwest of Hebron.
An Israeli military spokesman told Ma’an that Jihad Sharawneh was arrested and taken in for security questioning.
Amjad Najjar, head of the Hebron branch of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, denounced the arrest as an act of revenge to punish the Sharawneh family.
Ayman Sharawneh signed an agreement with Israeli authorities to be deported to Gaza for 10 years, bringing an end to his eight-month-long hunger strike, Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, said in a statement.
He arrived at the Erez crossing Sunday night, where a Palestinian ambulance was waiting to take him into Gaza. Hundreds of people crowded at the Palestinian side of the checkpoint to greet him.
Fares said that Israel had previously proposed to deport Sharawneh outside of Palestine, but then offered to exile him to Gaza after he refused to leave his homeland.
Sharawneh agreed to be deported after months of hunger striking to protest his detention, and after numerous warnings by doctors regarding the severe deterioration in his health, Fares added.
The 36-year-old father of nine had previously demanded that authorities allow him to return to Hebron to be with his family.
The under secretary of the PA Ministry of Detainee Affairs, Ziad Abu Ein, told Ma’an that Sharawneh’s agreement was signed without notifying the ministry.
Earlier Sunday, the Minister of Detainee Affairs Issa Qaraqe said the Palestinian Authority rejected the deportation of prisoners as political blackmail.
Sharawneh was released in the October 2011 prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas but was rearrested in January 2012 and accused of violating the terms of his release.
Israeli authorities refused to reveal how Sharawneh violated his release terms, even to his lawyers, and he was jailed without charge or trial.
Israeli prosecutors sought to cancel Sharawneh’s amnesty and jail him for 28 years, the remainder of his previous sentence. He went on hunger strike to demand his release.
Abu Ein said Israeli authorities were pressuring Samer Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for 228 days, to make a similar deal.
(Ma’an, WAFA, Al-Akhbar)
Israel detained 382 Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in February including deceased Arafat Jaradat, three parliamentarians and ten women, a report has said.
The report issued by AHRAR for Prisoners Studies showed that 376 detainees from the West Bank and six from the Gaza Strip.
According to the report, the largest number of Palestinians arrested was from the West Bank city of Nablus followed by Jerusalem, Hebron, Jenin and Bethlehem. Many were arrested from other cities.
While most of the Palestinians were arrested from their homes at night, the report said that 38 of them were arrested at Israeli checkpoints. There are more than 500 of these spread around the West Bank which divide the cities and “make people feel like they are living in hell.”
What made the February detentions distinctive is that large numbers of the detainees are Hamas leaders or activists. The three parliamentarians detained were members of Change and Reform Bloc which is affiliated to Hamas.
Foad al-Khafash, a former prisoner and the head of AHRAR, affirmed that Israeli detention campaigns occur on a daily basis. He also said that the current numbers of those detained are not final as some detentions might not have been reported.
Al-Khafash called for international organisations to shed light on the issue of the Palestinian prisoners and how they are being “violently” kidnapped from their houses.
“The Israeli soldiers ignore all humanitarian norms and laws when they break into the houses of the Palestinians and kidnap them,” Al-Khafash said.
He also said, “the Israeli forces carry out barbaric assaults against prisoners who are not charged and put them into administrative detention.”
It is worth mentioning that, according to AHRAR’s report, the number of detentions has increased this month. “This shows an increasingly aggressive policy in dealing with the Palestinians,” Al-Khafash said.
- Israel breaches truce 820 times in three months (altahrir.wordpress.com)
RAMALLAH — The Israeli Magistrate Court in occupied Jerusalem extended on Sunday the remand of Shadi Issawi, the brother of hunger striker Samer Issawi, and did not allow him to see his lawyer.
Shireen Issawi, the sister of Shadi and a lawyer, said that the arrest of Shadi and extending his remand fell in line with pressures on Samer to end his seven months hunger strike.
She charged the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) with targeting all members of Samer’s family, recalling that the IOA razed the home of her third brother Rafat at the start of the year and cut water supplies to her family home in addition to detaining her and her fourth brother Firas for a period of time.
- Shireen Al-Issawi: PA did not take prisoners’ issue to the UN (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Samer Issawi sentenced to 8 months in prison (alethonews.wordpress.com)
RAMALLAH – Clashes erupted across the West Bank after the Friday prayers between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters who rallied to show solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners.
Dozens were hurt as Israeli soldiers fired tear gas heavily to disperse the protesters.
Similarly, worshipers in Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem demonstrated in the compound after the Friday prayer before Israeli troops broke into the squares and clashed with the protesters.
According to Israeli radio station Reshet Bet, Israeli soldiers fired stun grenades to disperse the worshipers. The report highlighted that demonstrations started near the Moroccan Gate through which the soldiers stormed the compound and started to chase protesters.
In Ramallah in the central West Bank, 12 young men were hurt by tear gas and rubber-coated bullets during clashes with Israeli troops after the Friday prayers. Locals told Ma’an that the soldiers detained one Palestinian. The sources highlighted that the Friday prayer was performed near the main gate of Ofer detention center west of Ramallah.
They said about 100 Palestinians preformed Friday prayers near Ofer before Israeli soldiers showered them with tear gas as soon as they finished prayer.
As a result young men started to hurl stones at the soldiers and police officers. A Ma’an reporter said the soldiers directed their tear gas to journalists who gathered in the area to report about the event. He added that the soldiers fired live ammunition at a car for journalists, but nobody was hurt.
Further clashes took place in al-Arrub and al-Fawwar refugee camps in Hebron district.
Witnesses said young Palestinian men in al-Arrub camp north of Hebron pelted Israeli soldiers with stones. Clashes erupted first at the main entrance to the camp on the main road between Hebron and Bethlehem. Then the clashes extended to camp’s alleys resulting in more victims of tear gas as some canisters fell inside houses.
One owner of these houses was identified as Nayif Nimir al-Badawi. Four people were hurt by tear gas. Three others were hurt in house of Khamis Awad al-Badawi.
Israeli forces shut down the main entrance to al-Fawwar camp north of Hebron after young men hurled stones at Israeli soldiers. The soldiers responded with tear gas before they closed the main entrance to traffic.
In Tulkarem in the northern West Bank young Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops in the western part of the city. Soldiers fired tear gas as the young protesters pelted them with stones. The clashes erupted after hundreds of young men rallied after the Friday prayer chanting slogans against Israel’s treatment to Palestinian prisoners.
The northern West Bank city of Jenin also witnessed confrontations between young Palestinians and Israeli soldiers after the Friday prayer. Nine Palestinians were detained during the clashes and dozens were hurt by tear gas and rubber-coated bullets.
Jenin’s clashes started after young men marched from mosques toward al-Jalama checkpoint expressing solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian prisoners. A Ma’an reporter said Israeli forces fired hundreds of tear gas canisters at the protesters in addition to rubber-coated bullets and foul smelling liquids.
Local and security sources told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers detained nine young men. The sources identified one detainee as 14-year-old Amir Majid Irqawi. They said the soldiers assaulted him beating him brutally before he was detained.
Issawi has been on hunger strike for 204 days.
The magistrates court in Jerusalem sentenced Issawi for leaving Jerusalem, in violation of the terms of his amnesty granted in an Oct. 2011 prisoner exchange deal.
The sentence includes time served since Issawi’s re-arrest in July 2012, and will conclude on March 6, but Issawi also faces a possible sentence under an Israeli military order which allows a special military committee to cancel prisoners’ amnesty.
The committee could use secret evidence to sentence Issawi to serve 20 years, the remainder of his previous sentence.
Issawi was freed in an Oct. 2011 prisoner swap for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Israel has subsequently re-arrested at least 14 prisoners since the deal.
Ahead of Thursday’s verdict, Israeli forces clashed with hundreds of Palestinians protesting near Ramallah on Thursday in solidarity with long-term hunger strikers like Issawi.
A Ma’an reporter said 29 protesters were injured by rubber-coated bullets and dozens more suffered tear gas inhalation.
Prisoners minister Issa Qaraqe and Fatah central committee member Mahmoud al-Aloul joined the rally, near Israel’s Ofer prison in the central West Bank.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers used “riot dispersal means” against Palestinians who hurled rocks at forces.
Protests have been held across the West Bank and in Gaza in support of Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for 204 days, and Tareq Qaadan and Jaafar Azzidine who have refused food for 86 days.
Also Thursday, the Ahmed Abu Rish Brigades on Thursday threatened to fire rockets at Israel if any jailed hunger striker is harmed.
“We will continue to work with rockets and we will not stand by idly. Military operations will be implemented to achieve the rights of prisoners and to free them,” brigades member Abu Ali al-Qawkabi said in a statement.
Al-Qawkabi called on Palestinian leaders in Ramallah to reject any negotiations with Israel and urged the Gaza government to refuse a truce until the detainees’ demands are met.
Islamic Jihad meanwhile has said a truce with Israel could unravel if any hunger striker dies.
On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority called on the international community to step up efforts to protect and release prisoner like Issawi in Israeli detention facilities.
The cabinet also called on the World Health Organization to move forward on plans made last year to form a fact-finding committee to investigate the conditions in Israeli jails, specifically negligence.