EU demands rights for Palestinian hunger strikers

Day after widespread rioting in West Bank, Ashton says Palestinian detainees must be charged without delay or released.

Palestinians rally to free hunger strikers 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
Palestinians rally to free hunger strikers 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
Israel must adhere to international human rights obligations regarding hunger striking Palestinian prisoners, European Union spokesperson Catherine Ashton said Saturday, just a day after widespread riots erupted across the West Bank over the issue.
"The EU calls on the government of Israel to allow for the immediate restoration of their family visiting rights and calls for the full respect of international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian detainees and prisoners," Ashton said. "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 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."
Palestinians rioted Friday over the issue, with groups of Palestinians hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at IDF soldiers, who responded with various riot dispersal means.
In Betunia, west of Ramallah, near the Ofer security prison, some 300 Palestinians rioted and threw rocks at the IDF. Two soldiers were lightly injured by rocks thrown, an army spokeswoman said. Four Palestinians were lightly injured by rubber bullets in the clash.
Palestinian medics said that 156 Palestinians were treated for smoke inhalation, according to Palestinian news agency Ma'an.
Palestinian medical officials also said two protesters were wounded by live gunfire in the demonstration.
The IDF Spokesman's Office responded that, "During a violent an illegal riot near Betunia, Palestinians hurled rocks at IDF soldiers. The soldiers, feeling immediate danger, fired while leaving the area. The incident is being reviewed."
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.
Sixty Palestinians gathered at Kafr Qaddum, west of Nablus, and hurled rocks and firebombs at soldiers. The soldiers were dealing with that incident.
Some 80 Palestinians appeared at Nabi Salah, near Ramallah, to take part in a violent disturbance, and 30 Palestinians attacked soldiers in the Kalandiya area, between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
The riots came after the Kfir Brigade's Haruv Battallion carried out arrests of nine Palestinian suspects overnight Thursday in the West Bank village of Azun, on suspicion of throwing rocks at Israeli vehicles, causing injuries.
The arrests followed intelligence gathering in the village, which has been a hotbed of rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on passing Israeli vehicles in the area.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that the Palestinian people would never forget the 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 prisoner's tent in Ramallah, 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 and Reuters contributed to this report.