Around 800 Palestinian prisoners carried out a one-day hunger strike on Tuesday
in solidarity with four prisoners who have refused food for an extended period
of time, as clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces increased
in intensity for a second day.
Palestinian protesters clashed with the
IDF in the West Bank town of Huwara, as about 200 young Arabs threw rocks and
fireworks at soldiers who fired back with tear gas and sound bombs, according to
Activists claim that Palestinians also started a protest at the Red
Cross office in Ramallah and then moved to the Ofer Prison in the West Bank,
according to Al Jazeera.
The report also stated that 1,000 protesters
rallied in Nablus and 1,500 in Hebron.
In the northern city of Nazareth,
protest tents were erected as part of a rally.
Samer Essawi, 35, one of
the hunger-striking prisoners, has refused food for more than 200 days. He was
arrested by the IDF in Operation Defensive Shield during the second intifada in
2002, and according to the Prisons Service, sentenced to 26 years for terrorist
activity. He was released as part of the Gilad Schalit prisoner swap deal, then
rearrested in July 2012 for violating the conditions of his release, according
to the IDF.
Essawi appeared before a Jerusalem civil court on Tuesday and
was refused bail before his sentencing later this month.
In response to
the protests, Balad MK Jamal Zahalka repeated his previous warning to The
“I was just in Hebron yesterday, and people are very
angry over this situation. If anything happens to the hunger-striking prisoners,
it will cause even stronger protests in the West Bank and the
In regard to US President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit,
Zahalka said, “it makes sense that Israel needs a quiet situation and not
But, he said, he had no idea if a solution to the situation
would be found before his arrival.
If the four prisoners are not
released, Zahalka said, the protests will escalate to “higher levels.” The Balad MK repeated claims made by others that Essawi’s health is in critical condition
and that he is only drinking water.
Essawi was hospitalized over the
weekend after he lost consciousness.
His condition improved after
receiving an IV drip, his lawyers reportedly said.
Likud MK Danny Danon,
responding to the increase in violence said, “We don’t fear the threats of
terrorists and we must understand that we are talking about convicted terrorists
who attacked Israel. And now they are trying to get VIP treatment and an early
release due to their hunger strike,” he said.
“If we give in now, the
message will be that we are weak and that we fold under pressure and they will
return to these tactics in the future.”
Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad
group in Gaza said that its truce with Israel could end if any of the hunger
In addition to Essawi, Ayman Sharawna, Jafar Ezzidin and
Tareq Qaa’dan have been on a long-term hunger strike.
negotiator Saeb Erekat said that he was in touch with Israel and that Egypt was
trying to resolve the issue, in a similar manner to its negotiation of the
settlement of protests in Israeli jails last year.
The French Foreign
Ministry told Israel “to be sensitive to the risk of a tragic outcome and to
take appropriate measures as a matter of urgency.”
Ban Kimoon released a statement on Tuesday saying he “is deeply concerned over
the rapidly deteriorating condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody
who are on hunger strike, in particular the critical health condition of one
Palestinian detainee, Samer Essawi.”
Ban added that he has received
letters from PA President Mahmoud Abbas as well as from Secretary-General of the
Arab League Amr Moussa, and has discussed the matter with Prime Minister
Meanwhile, Israeli forces arrested Essawi’s brother
at their family home in east Jerusalem.
The Egyptian paper Al-Masry
al-Youm reported on Tuesday that Hamas leader Khaled Mashal said on Monday that
Egypt was in contact with Israel regarding the Palestinian prisoners.
Monday, Al-Quds al-Arabi reported that a spokesman for Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri,
threatened Israel for its violation of the Schalit prisoner exchange deal,
blaming Israel for re-arresting prisoners released in the deal.
this month, the IDF responded to the Post’s request for comment on the case of
Essawi and the reason for his re-arrest.
“The release of Samer Essawi
stipulated that he would not commit any offense punishable by three months’
imprisonment or more, among other release conditions,” the IDF said in a
statement. “During 2012, he was convicted, according to his confession, of
violating a legal order and of coaching a witness. The court has not yet reached
a verdict in his case.
“At the same time, the matter is pending before a
committee that examines the violation of the terms of his release. The committee
is empowered to order his return to prison in order to serve the remainder of
his sentence,” the army said.
Reuters contributed to this report.