Conflict & Justice

More than 60 injured in West Bank protests over hunger strikes


Supporters of Samer Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who is on a hunger strike, demonstrate with placards outside the Magistrate's Court which rules on Issawi's case, on February 21, 2013 in Jerusalem. Issawi, who comes from annexed east Jerusalem, was released under terms of the 2011 prisoner swap deal and was rearrested in July on charges of violating the terms of his release by taking his car to a garage in the West Bank.



More than 60 people have been injured in the West Bank after Palestinians and Israeli troops clashed during protests.

According to BBC News, many gathered outside Ofer prison near Ramallah, throwing stones and gas bombs at Israeli soldiers, who in turn fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Some reports said live fire was being used.

Voice of America reported that when protesters — who burned tires and threw rocks at soldiers — tried to march to the jail, they were stopped by troops.

Demonstrators were calling for the release of four Palestinian prisoners who are on a hunger strike, noted BBC. The prisoners have said they are being held without charge, but Israeli argued that they are a security risk.

More from GlobalPost: Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails plan mass hunger strike

According to VOA, Israel is holding Palestinians in jail for charges ranging from throwing rocks to being responsible for deadly militant attacks.

One of those being held, Samer Issawi, has been on a hunger strike for more than 200 days, reported BBC. He is said to weigh less than 50kg (110lbs). For most of his strike, Issawi has been consuming only water, vitamins, minerals and sugars.

The three other hunger strikers are Tariq Qaadan, Jafar Ezzedine and Ayman Sharawna.

Protests began this week with the news that the health of the hunger strikers is deteriorating, noted VOA. Palestinians have said that if one of the prisoners die, there will be violence.

"There will be a harsh response," a young protester told Israeli TV, according to VOA.

A spokesperson for Israel's Prisons Service said the hunger strikers were in "satisfactory condition" and were receiving medical treatment when needed, but they had lost the right to family visits when they started their protests.

As of December 2012, Israel has held 4,517 Palestinians in its prisons.