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Palestinians protest outside Ofer prison as hunger strikers’ story breaks into US media

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Palestinians protest in solidarity with hunger strikers outside Ofer prison, clash w/Israeli forces Feb 19,2013

As international pressure intensifies over Israel’s inhumane administrative detention policy, hundreds of Palestinians rallied throughout the West Bank in solidarity with hunger-strikers Samer Isawi, Ayman Sharawneh, Tareq Qa’adan and Jafar Iz Eldin again yesterday.

Marching towards Ofer prison from Birzeit, Beitunia and Ramallah, protesters clashed with Israeli forces outside Israel’s military prison. 800 Palestinian prisoners in three prisons participated in the protest by declaring a one-day fast, according to Amani Srahna of the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

As Samer Issawi, held without charge, deteriorates into his 211th day of starvation, there are indications that the plight of Palestinian prisoners might be finally piercing the US mainstream discourse: The New York Times, NY Daily News, ABC news and the Kansas City Star covered yesterday’s protest. Unfortunately, an Israeli judge rejected Issawi’s request to be freed on bail yesterday. And today Israel’s high court rejected a petition to release Ayman Sharawneh.

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Ofer prison clashes Feb.19,2013 (photo by WAFA)

After Friday’s protest with over a 1000 participants, the European Union issued an urgent call for Israel to “[fully respect] international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian detainees and prisoners” on Saturday, and Physicians for Human Rights accused Israel of violating prisoners rights and called Israel’s treatment of hunger-striking Palestinians “a systemic moral, ethical and professional failure.”

Reuters: Pressure mounts on Israel over hunger strike of prisoners

In the Gaza Strip, the Islamic Jihad group said a truce with Israel that ended eight days of fighting in November could unravel if any hunger striker died…..Issawi was among 1,027 jailed Palestinians freed by Israel in 2011 in exchange for Gilad Shalit, a soldier who was abducted on the Gaza border by Hamas. Issawi and Ayman Sharawneh, who has also been on hunger strike, are among 14 Palestinians who have been re-arrested by Israel since being released in the Shalit trade.

Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote on Twitter that Issawi and Sharawneh were detained “because they violated the terms of the Shalit deal by returning to illegal activities which pose a threat.”

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said he had been in contact with Israel and urged it to release the men. He said Egypt, which helped mediate the Shalit prisoner swap and also negotiated an end to a Palestinian mass hunger strike in Israeli jails last year, was trying to end the new protest.

Israel has defused previous long-term hunger strikes among the some 4,700 Palestinians in its jails by agreeing to release individuals or deporting them to Gaza — a prospect rejected by the four protesters, who hail from Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Protest in support of Prisoners via Ahmed El-Farra Feb. 19, 2013 
Feburary 19,2013 (Photo: Activestills)
Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is a mom, a human rights activist, and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area and likes to garden. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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