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Palestinian protesters force closure of ICRC office

24 August 2016 15:00

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Palestinian protesters have stormed the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, blaming it for inaction in the case of a prisoner now on his 70th day of hunger strike in Israeli detention.

The protesters forced the temporary closure of the relief agency’s headquarters in the city of Ramallah on Wednesday, reported the Palestinian news agency Safa.

A day earlier, Palestinian inmate Bilal Kayed, for whom the Wednesday protest action was taken, addressed a letter to his fellow Palestinians, asserting he would keep up his hunger strike.

Kayed’s health has sharply deteriorated, with his lawyer saying that the 35-year-old is now unable to move or speak on his own. Bilal’s mother, Raheeba Kayed, has been barred from visiting her son in the hospital. Lawyers have told her that Israeli authorities refuse to allow her son to be uncuffed from his hospital bed.

Kayed was to be released in June after serving a 14-and-a-half-year sentence for activities in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Instead, Israeli authorities ordered that he remain in “administrative detention,” an Israeli practice that effectively leaves Palestinian prisoners in a legal limbo.

More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners, among them 350 children, are currently being held in some 17 Israeli jails.

Separately, Israeli forces were reported to have assaulted Palestinian houses in the Beit Einun village to the east of the city of al-Khalil (Hebron) in southern West Bank and demolished two residential buildings in the Umm al-Khair district southeast of the city.

Israeli forces, meanwhile, confronted Palestinian youths in the town of Hazma elsewhere in the West Bank, injuring two of them with rubber bullets.

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