Dozens of Palestinians including two journalists were injured as Israeli forces suppressed a march in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Thursday. Protesters, some of whom dressed up as prisoners, demonstrated in solidarity with some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners who have been consuming only a mixture of salt and water for 18 days.
The protesters also demanded the release of the bodies of slain Palestinians who remain held inside Israel.
Clashes erupted as protesters reached Israel’s illegal separation wall. Witnesses told Ma’an that journalist Safiyyeh Omar was injured with a stun grenade in her leg, while photojournalist Abed Hashlamoun was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the leg.
Dozens of protesters suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.
An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.
Separately, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) organized a solidarity march in Ramallah city in the central West Bank. The march set off from the headquarters of the PLO to the grave of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and finally to a sit-in solidarity tent at al-Manara circle in the center of the city. Members of the PLO Mahmoud Ismail, Ghassan al-Shakaa, Abed al-Rahim Mallouh, heads of public unions and heads of PLO institutions, Ramallah and al-Bireh governor Laila Ghannam, Mustafa al-Barghouthi and families of prisoners took part in the march.The mother of the youngest Palestinian prisoner, 12-year-old Shadi Farah, gave a speech on her son’s detention conditions, highlighting that the child was sentenced to three years of actual prison time and five years of suspended sentence.
Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to a joint statement released on Saturday by Palestinian organizations.
According to prisoners’ rights organization Addameer, some 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of March.
[Source: Maan News Agency]