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Palestinians gather at sit-in tent in Bethlehem in support of hunger strikers

April 29, 2017 4:38 P.M. (Updated: April 30, 2017 10:35 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinians in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem continued solidarity activities on the 13th day of a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons on Saturday, as sit-in tents have been established across the occupied West Bank in solidarity with the prisoners.

A sit-in was held in Manger Square, adjacent to the Nativity Church, where Palestinians gathered to express their support to the some 1,500 Palestinians participating in the “Freedom and Dignity” strike -- initially organized by Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi.

Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe stressed during the demonstration that solidarity activities in support of the Palestinian hunger strikers would continue, as he called upon Palestinians to take part in a solidarity march that would take place at Nelson Mandela Square in Ramallah city on May 3.

Qaraqe added that prisoners were now entering a critical stage of the strike, which has become dangerous to the lives of the prisoners, particularly the elderly and sick.

A delegation from the municipality of Beit Fajjar south of Bethlehem took part in the sit-in, with mayor of Beit Fajjar Iyad Thawabteh calling upon Palestinians to keep supporting the hunger strikers in their fight for dignity in Israeli prisons.

Students from Salah al-Din elementary school, which is near the Nativity Church in Bethlehem's Old City, also took part in the demonstration and shouted slogans in support of the prisoners.

Separately, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah visited a solidarity tent Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank. Hamdallah addressed activists, saying that the world's super powers should immediately put pressure on Israel to respond positively to the hunger strikers' demands, which should be guaranteed under international law.

"The United Nations should not remain silent about Israeli violations against prisoners and Palestinian people," the prime minster said.
Rami Hamdallah at a sit-in tent in Hebron

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 abroad, including in South America.

On Thursday, a general strike was held in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in solidarity with the strike, with almost all shops and institutions shutting down.

Initially called for by Fatah-affiliated prisoners, 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.
Bethlehem sit-in

Bethlehem sit-in

Bethlehem sit-in
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