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Youth protest by Red Cross, UN offices in Gaza Strip

May 13, 2012 9:58 A.M. (Updated: May 15, 2012 12:17 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinian youth held demonstrations outside the offices of international organizations in Gaza City on Sunday morning, calling for a stronger stance in support of hunger-striking prisoners.

Protesters blocked employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Development Programme from accessing their offices for two hours, witnesses said.

"Since international organizations remain silent towards Israeli procedures against Palestinian prisoners, they are responsible for their lives, just as the occupying state," youth activist Hani Abu Mustafa said at a press conference near the ICRC offices.

If any of the 2,000 Palestinians on hunger-strike dies, Abu Mustafa warned "the consequences will be disastrous for both the occupying state and the international organizations operating in Gaza Strip."

Demonstrators later moved the protest to the Gaza office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process office.

On Wednesday, Palestinian youth in the West Bank held a sit-in outside the UN compound in Ramallah, carrying banners accusing the UN of collusion with Israeli government policies.

Later, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel to either charge or release Palestinian detainees "without delay."

Protesters said the action was the first in a series of planned non-violent activities against international organizations in Palestine.

Rights groups warn that two hunger-strikers -- who entered their 76th day without food on Sunday -- are in a critical condition and risk immediate death.

Bilal Diab, 27, and Thaer Halahla, 33, started hunger-strikes after prisoners Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi won release from detention without charge by refusing food.

In the past month, around 2,000 prisoners joined a group of administrative detainees on hunger-strike, according to prisoners groups' estimates.

They are calling for improved conditions in Israeli custody, such as an end to solitary confinement and bans on family visits, in addition to ending administrative detention.
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