Protests near Ofer Prison 370 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Approximately 300 activists protested outside the Ofer Prison adjacent to the Beitunia crossing in the West Bank on Friday to express support for hunger striking Palestinian prisoners.
Some of the activists threw rocks at security personnel, injuring two IDF soldiers. The security forces responded with riot dispersal means, including tear gas and rubber bullets.
Activists said there were a number of people injured in the incident, including four journalists. Medics said that 156 Palestinians were treated for smoke inhalation, according to Palestinian news agency Ma'an.
Palestinians said that the IDF was using live fire, a claim which was denied by the IDF Spokesman's Unit.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that
the Palestinian people would never forget the prisoners in Israeli
"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
prisoner's 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 settlement of Efrat, according to Ma'an.
The activists were seeking the release of hunger striking Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi, who was 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, Samer was sentenced to 30 years in prison for terrorism-related activity.
Issawi served 10 years, and in October 2011 he was released along with 476 other Palestinian terrorists and criminals in the Egypt-brokered Schalit deal between Hamas and Israel.
However, in July 2012 he was rearrested as the IDF said he had violated the terms of his release.
He began a hunger strike shortly after his arrest in 2012.
MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) told The Jerusalem Post
this week that his party is trying to internationalize the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by seeking help from the UN and other countries with regards to the release of four Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails.Ariel Ben Solomon contributed to this report
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