West Bank clashes erupt as Palestinians protest prisoner conditions

Geneva Matthews
April 30, 2017

In Bethlehem, protesters waved photos of Marwan Barghouti the jailed leader who called for the strike.

Clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territory on Friday for a "Day of Rage" announced by the Fatah movement to support the hunger strikers, while solidarity sit-ins were held in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel, and overseas, including in South America.

About 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners have refused food since April 17, Palestinian Prisoners' Day, they are calling for an end to ongoing collective punishment, administrative detention, continued denial of fair trial, and illegal transfer and deportation of detainees.

An IPS spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

A social media campaign called #saltwaterchallenge or #تحدي_مي_وملح, launched by Palestinians which highlights the plight of more than 1,500 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has gone viral. with people from across the world posting videos of themselves on social media drinking salt water in solidarity.

Occupation authorities have been since Thursday imposing general closure on West Bank, in a bid to prevent Palestinians from gathering in support of the prisoners.

According to Qaraqe, IPS officials have continued preventing prisoners - some of whom are refusing all forms of nutrition except salt and water - from accessing commissaries to purchase salt, provided prisoners with dirty sheets and covers, and carried out provocative search raids of prisoners rooms, and arbitrary transfers of prisoners.

Qadoura Fares, who runs the Prisoners' Club advocacy group, said Thursday's strike "reflects the large public concern" for the prisoners. Some 6,500 Palestinians are now being held in Israeli prisons, 500 of whom are held under administrative detention.

The protests, which were organized by the National Committee to Support the Hunger Strike, included representatives of several Palestinian factions.

Barghouti is popular among Palestinians, with polls suggesting he could win the Palestinian presidency.

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