Israelis clash with Palestinians supporting hunger strikers
Scuffles have broken out between Israeli forces and Palestinians protesting in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners in the occupied West Bank, leaving several demonstrators injured.
The confrontations took place on Thursday in the town of Beitunia near the Israeli Ofer military jail, where several Palestinian inmates are on hunger strike.
Israeli forces opened fire and used tear gas to disperse the crowd, but the Palestinian demonstrators responded by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.
The demonstration was held in support of Palestinian detainees who are refusing food at Israeli jails, among them Bilal Kayed, who has been on hunger strike for 66 days to protest his administrative detention.
The 35-year-old Kayed, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was arrested in 2002 and spent 14 and a half years in Israeli jails. On the day he was scheduled to be released on June 13, the Tel Aviv regime decided to extend his imprisonment term for another six months under the so-called administrative detention policy, which allows detainees to be held without trial for renewable six-month periods.
Consequently, the Palestinian man went on a hunger strike to denounce his arbitrary detention.
In a similar development on Thursday, people in the besieged Gaza Strip held a protest, called by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, in support of Kayid and other prisoners.
Khader Habib, a leader of the movement, said Palestinians will not leave their prisoners alone, stressing that Israel exploits current crises in the Arab world and division among Palestinians to put pressure on the detainees.
More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails. Many of the detainees are held under the so-called administrative detention.