Widespread Palestinian rioting erupts in West Bank

Hundreds of Palestinians throw rocks, Molotov cocktails at IDF soldiers near Ofer security prison in support of hunger strikers.

February 15, 2013 18:59
3 minute read.
Stone-throwing Palestinian protesters carry a protester injured by IDF outside Ofer Prison, Feb 15

Palestinians carry protester injured by IDF. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Widespread rioting erupted in the West Bank on Friday after Palestinians said they would confront the IDF over security prisoners on hunger strike.

Large groups threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers, who responded with various riot dispersal means.

In Beitunya, west of Ramallah, near the Ofer security prison, some 300 Palestinians rioted and threw rocks at the IDF, lightly wounding two soldiers, an army spokeswoman said.

Four Palestinians were lightly wounded by rubber bullets in the clash. An army source said reports of a Palestinian moderately wounded in the incident were being examined.

Palestinian medics said 156 Palestinians were treated for smoke inhalation, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.

Sixty Palestinians gathered at Kafr Kaddum, west of Nablus, and threw rocks and firebombs at soldiers.

Some 80 Palestinians appeared at Nabi Salih, near Ramallah, to take part in a violent disturbance, and 30 Palestinians attacked soldiers in the Kalandiya area, between Ramallah and Jerusalem.

Palestinians said that the IDF was using live fire, a claim denied by the IDF Spokesman’s Office.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian people would never forget their prisoners in Israeli jails.

“We will not forget, and we will not leave you to suffer behind the bars of the occupation,” he said during a visit to a protest tent in Ramallah, according to Ma’an.

Smaller demonstrations in solidarity with the hunger strikers were also held across the West Bank on Friday, including in Bethlehem, Jenin and outside the Efrat settlement, according to Ma’an.

The activists were seeking the release of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi, arrested by the IDF in Operation Defensive Shield during the second intifada in 2002. A member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Issawi was sentenced to 30 years in prison for terrorismrelated activity. He served 10 years, and in October 2011 was released along with 476 other Palestinian terrorists and criminals in the Egyptbrokered Schalit deal between Hamas and Israel.

He was re-arrested in July 2012, as the IDF said he had violated the terms of his release. He began a hunger strike shortly after his arrest.

MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) told The Jerusalem Post last week that his party was trying to internationalize the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by seeking help from the United Nations and other countries with regards to the release of four Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails.

This tactic has already had a modicum of success, as the representative for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton released a statement saying she was “following with concern” the reports about the deteriorating heath of the hunger strikers.

“The EU calls on the government of Israel to allow for the immediate restoration of [the prisoners’] family visiting rights and calls for the full respect of international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian detainees and prisoners,” the statement said.

It also cited the EU’s “long-standing concern about the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention orders,” which currently apply to two of the hunger striking prisoners.

“Under international law, detainees have the right to be informed about the reasons underlying any detention and to have the legality of their detention determined without undue delay,” the statement read.

“The EU calls upon Israel to bring formal charges against any individuals detained, with a view to bringing them to a fair trial without undue delay.”

An Israeli government official responded to Ashton’s statement by saying Israel “strictly abides by all international laws and conventions regarding our prisoners, who have the right of judicial review all the way up to the Supreme Court.”

Meanwhile, the Kfir Brigade’s Haruv Battalion carried out arrests of nine Palestinian suspects overnight from Thursday to Friday, in the West Bank village of Azun, on suspicion of throwing rocks at Israeli vehicles and causing injuries.

The arrests followed intelligence gathering in the village, which has been a hotbed of rock throwing and Molotov cocktail attacks on passing Israeli vehicles in the area.

Herb Keinon, Ariel Ben Solomon and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report

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