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Fatah announces 'day of rage,' urging Palestinians to clash with Israeli forces

April 22, 2017 9:13 P.M. (Updated: April 24, 2017 7:38 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Fatah movement has pronounced Friday, April 28 to be a “day of rage,” and called on all Palestinians to "clash" with Israeli forces to express solidarity for an ongoing mass hunger strike underway in Israeli prisons, organized by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi.

The Fatah movement in the occupied West Bank, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), called for Palestinians to express their unity by performing Friday prayers at the many solidarity tents that have already been set up across the West Bank in support of the some 1,500 hunger strikers, who entered their sixth day without food on Saturday.

The official statement urged the Palestinian people to "clash with the occupier in all seam zones," referring to isolated Palestinian areas in the occupied West Bank that fall between Israel’s separation wall and the Green Line.

"The excessive practices of the Israeli occupation, particularly those of the Israel Prison Service," necessitated that "we clash with the occupier everywhere across our homeland," the statement said.

Fatah also called for a general strike to be held Thursday, April 27, which is to include "all aspects of daily life,” presumably calling for the shutdown of all businesses and institutions in the West Bank.

The statement maintained that Israel would be held responsible for the lives of all Palestinian prisoners and for "any unrest in the region that may emerge as a result of Israel's stubbornness and indifference toward these prisoners' demands."

The hunger strikers have denounced the torture, ill treatment, and medical neglect of Palestinian prisoners at the hands of Israeli authorities, as well as Israel’s widespread use of administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges -- which is only permitted under international law in extremely limited circumstances.

Initially called for by Fatah-affiliated prisoners, Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum have since pledged their commitment to undertake the strike.

However, remarks critical of the Israeli occupation by the Palestinian Authority and its ruling party, Fatah, have often been been with skepticism by Palestinian factions, who have long denounced the PA’s policy of security coordination with Israel as a “revolving door” of funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons.

In the 12 years of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ rule, the PA has been on the receiving end of mounting criticism over its corruption and seeming inability to advance towards a just solution for Palestinians.

The PA’s security coordination with Israel has become the most prominent target for critics of Abbas’ government, as detention raids by Palestinian police have recently sparked violent clashes. The killing of prominent Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj at the hands of Israeli forces in March, months after he was released from Palestinian custody, has also inspired anti-PA protests, which were violently suppressed by Palestinian police.

Growing discontent has sparked internal divisions within Fatah over the years, as some members of the party have expressed support for Abbas’s longtime rival Muhammad Dahlan, a dismissed member of the Fatah movement now living in exile in the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, leader of the ongoing mass hunger strike and Fatah member Marwan Barghouthi has remained politically active from behind bars, and remains one of the most popular politicians in Palestine, receiving a wide range of support among various political factions.

As a result of the widespread respect held for Barghouthi, the politician was named a strong contender to replace PA President Mahmoud Abbas, as a 2016 poll revealed Barghouthi having more popular support than any other politician as a potential presidential replacement, and the only Fatah member to receive more support than Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh.
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