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Sit-ins organized in Palestinian territory, Israel, Venezuela in support of hunger strike

April 28, 2017 7:32 P.M. (Updated: May 1, 2017 3:40 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Solidarity events were organized in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel, and in Venezuela on Friday in support of the some 1,500 Palestinian prisoners currently on the 12th day of a mass hunger strike across Israeli prisons, as clashes erupted throughout the Palestinian territory to mark a “Day of Rage,” called for by the Fatah movement.

In the northern part of the West Bank district of Salfit, dozens of Palestinians performed Friday prayers in the village of Deir Istiya, near an agricultural area that had been closed off by Israeli forces, which has prevented Palestinian farmers from reaching their lands.

In Salfit city, in the central West Bank, Palestinians performed Friday prayers in a solidarity sit-in tent constructed for the hunger strikers.

Secretary of the Fatah movement in Salfit Abd al-Sattar Awwad, who attended the sit-in demonstration, called upon human rights institutions to support and stand with the prisoners until their demands were met by Israeli authorities.

Nizar Daqrur, head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), also stressed the importance of immediate intervention to save the lives of the hunger strikers, while pressuring Israel to release them.

In the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, a march was organized in Beit Sahour in solidarity with the prisoners. Tens of Palestinians toured the city holding pictures of prisoners and lit candles.
Further south, hundreds of Palestinians also performed Friday prayers at a solidarity tent in Hebron city.

Rateb al-Jbour, coordinator for the popular and national resistance committees, said that hundreds of Palestinians in the village of Yatta in Hebron also performed prayers at their local solidarity tent.

Meanwhile, in the village of Beit Ula in western Hebron, dozens of other Palestinians performed Friday prayers at the village’s solidarity tent in support of the mass hunger strike.

In Hebron's al-Fawwar refugee camp, Palestinians held a march in support of the hunger strikers. Witnesses told Ma'an that gunmen of Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade -- the armed wing of the Fatah movement -- had fired live bullets into the air while participating in the march. One of the members also gave a speech in the sit-in tent at the camp and confirmed the movement's support for the hunger strikers.
In occupied East Jerusalem, a sit-in was also organized at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound following Friday prayers with the participation of families of Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons.

Participants held pictures of Palestinian prisoners and shouted slogans expressing their solidarity with the mass hunger strike. The families of the prisoners said during the event that their sons’ demands were “fair and legal,” and called upon Palestinians and the international community to continue organizing events in solidarity with the prisoners.

The families also demanded that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) increase their visitation to Palestinian prisoners and exert pressure on Israeli authorities to address the demands of the hunger strikers.
During Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa, where some 30,000 Palestinians attended prayers, the Khutbah (Islamic sermon) centered on the mass hunger strike.

Sheikh Ismael Nawahda stressed in the Khutbah the necessity of supporting Palestinian prisoners while they are inside the prisons, and also when they are released.

He also demanded that all media outlets highlight the prisoners’ struggle and called upon the international community to work on releasing the prisoners in order to “end their suffering.”

“The prisoners are on hunger strike because they refuse humiliation and demand their dignity that has been given by Allah to every human being. They were forced to declare the hunger strike to gain some of the humanitarian rights guaranteed by all religious and human laws,” he said.

Meanwhile, Palestinians youths who were banned from entering the compound performed Friday prayers at al-Asbat gate outside the holy site.
In the Palestinian city of Rahat in the southern district of Israel, Palestinians also organized a sit-in in solidarity with the prisoners.

Protesters held up signs condemning Israeli policies that violate Palestinian rights.

Protesters also expressed the importance of supporting the hunger-striking prisoners and applauded the prisoners for leading the “fatal battle” to gain dignity and rights.
In the South American country of Venezuela, a sit-in was organized at the Palestinian embassy in solidarity with the hunger strikers, and was attended by a number of Palestinians residing in Venezuela and international officials.

Palestinian ambassador to Venezuela Linda Subih said during the sit-in that the Palestinian diaspora supports Palestinian prisoners in their fight for dignity and freedom. Subih also talked about the circumstances the Palestinian prisoners have faced and stressed that the prisoners’ demands were fair and in accordance with international laws.

She also condemned Israel’s “racist, suppressive, and inhuman reactions towards the peaceful act of the prisoners,” and expressed her appreciation to Venezuela and its people for their continued support for the Palestinian cause.
Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Felix Plasencia confirmed Venezuela’s supportive stance towards the Palestinian cause, and said it would continue “until the Palestinian people gain freedom and independence.”

He added that Venezuela would continue its international efforts for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Meanwhile, the Qatari ambassador to Venezuela Bital al-Dusari expressed pride in all the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, saying that since the establishment of Israel 70 years ago, the “suffering of the Palestinian people, the true and legal owner of the land, began once they were exiled and the world abandoned them to face the Israeli occupation alone.”

He added that there were more than six million Palestinian refugees around the world who continue to wait for international justice and the recognition of their rights of return, self-determination, and independence.
Hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel have been participating in the hunger strike led by senior Fatah official Marwan Barghouthi since April 17 to protest the torture, ill treatment, and medical neglect of prisoners at the hands of Israeli authorities, as well as Israel’s widespread use of administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges.

Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to a joint statement released last week by Palestinian organizations. According to prisoners' rights organization Addameer, some 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of March.
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