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Protesters rally in solidarity with hunger strikers

Feb. 18, 2013 3:54 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 20, 2013 1:21 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM/HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Protesters rallied in Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah on Monday in support of hunger striking prisoners in Israeli jails, as the PA minister of prisoner affairs warned of a popular uprising in the West Bank.

In Al-Khader near Bethlehem, dozens of people, including the families of prisoners and representatives from human right groups, rallied by route 60.

Israeli soldiers arrived in the area and dispersed protestors using tear gas canisters and stun grenades, witnesses said, injuring several people.

Protesters waved Palestinian flags and held photos of hunger strikers.

In Hebron, protestors gathered in the city's Ibn Rushd Square, Hahul town and al-Arrub refugee camp. Israeli forces arrived in the area and clashes broke out with protestors.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe said that Palestinians would start a "freedom uprising" if Israel continued to overlook the rights of hunger-striking prisoners.

"Palestinian prisoners in Israel will start protests in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners starting Tuesday, and there is a possibility that prisoners will launch a general hunger strike," he told crowds at a prisoners rally in Qalandia refugee camp.

Popular anger at prisoner conditions

Protesters in Ramallah demonstrated outside UNRWA offices on Monday, accusing the UN agency of ignoring the plight of hunger striking prisoners in Israeli jails.

Protesters had tried to enter the UN offices but were prevented from doing so by PA police forces.

Informed sources told Ma'an that UNRWA decided to evacuate employees fearing assaults by protestors.

On Friday, hundreds of Palestinians protested across the West Bank in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike, sparking clashes with Israeli forces.

Outside Israel's Ofer jail, near Ramallah, hundreds gathered in solidarity with Samer Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for 201 days, and Tareq Qaadan and Jaafar Azzidine who have refused food for 83 days.

On Feb. 20, Israel's High Court will hear a petition by several lawyers, including from Addameer, against article 186 of Israeli military order 1651, which gives an Israeli military committee the power to cancel amnesty for a prisoner based on confidential information not available to the detainee, or the detainee's lawyer.
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