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Palestinians rally in West Bank, Gaza in support of hunger-striking prisoners

April 30, 2017 5:07 P.M. (Updated: April 30, 2017 8:11 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- As more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners entered the second week of an open-ended hunger strike in Israeli prisons, Palestinians across the occupied territory and activists abroad continued to hold demonstrations in solidarity with the hunger strikers.

A sit-in was held on Sunday in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, organized by employees of Palestinian telecom companies Jawwal and Paltel.

Participants held signs supporting prisoners and chanted slogans calling on Palestinians to support prisoners in their struggle. Executive manager of Paltel Ammar al-Aker affirmed that the daily solidarity demonstrations sent an important message to the prisoners who are “fighting a battle against the Israeli occupation to gain basic rights guaranteed by international law.”

Head of Jawwal’s employee union Abdallah Daghlas said that the aim of the sit-in was to show prisoners they were not alone in their struggle, and to convey the prisoners' demand for dignity to the world.

One participant of the demonstration told Ma’an that the sit-in was “just a modest form of solidarity, and that Palestinian prisoners deserve so much more.”

On Saturday, local organizations in Aida refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem held a festival in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, which included a dabka dance performance by the al-Rowwad Society.

The event was attended by residents of the camp, relatives of Palestinian prisoners, representative of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Hassan Abd al-Rabbu, and Bethlehem Mufti Abd al-Majid Atta.

Atta said that the festival was held beside Israel’s separation wall “to send a message to the Israeli occupation,” as an Israeli army base lies just beyond the wall next to the camp.

Abd al-Rabbu for his part expressed pride in Palestinian prisoners for continuing their hunger strike, despite Israeli authorities' use of suppressive measures against the prisoners, including placing hunger strikers in solidarity confinement.

During a rally in Gaza City on Saturday night, held in protest of the ongoing Israeli siege of the coastal enclave, Hamas politburo member Mahmoud al-Zahar expressed his support for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.

“We are with you. Your hunger is our hunger, and your pain is our pain. Go forward in confronting your enemy,” al-Zahar said, speaking before tens of thousands of Palestinians at the Palestinian Legislative Council office in Gaza.

The official also affirmed Hamas’ commitment to free all Palestinian political prisoners, vowing that “the resistance will not rest until prisoners are freed.”

Al-Zahar also denounced Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that 82-year old leader, whose mandate was indefinitely extended in 2009, was "no longer the president of Palestinian people.”

“Everything he works for is against the Palestinian interest,” al-Zahar said, accusing Abbas of losing his legitimacy while simultaneously attempting to impose his will on the Palestinian people.
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