Hundreds of Arabs gathered outside Ofer jail near Ramallah in Samaria on Friday in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike, sparking clashes with Israeli forces, Ma’an reports.
At least 156 were treated for tear gas inhalation, according to Arab sources.
One IDF soldier was injured lightly.
An Arab reports says two soldiers were captured and beaten to a pulp outside the Ofer jail.
Arab youths threw stones at Israeli forces, and soldiers attempted to push back the crowds.
An IDF spokeswoman said forces were responding to 200 stone-throwing Arabs with riot dispersal means.
PA MP Mustafa Barghouthi, Arab MK Ahmad Tibi and Islamic Movement in Israel leader Shiekh Raed Salah attended Friday prayers outside the jail.
Barghouthi said around 1,000 Arabs had gathered to show support to the Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli jails.
MK Tibi said: “If a prisoner on a hunger strike dies, the whole region will burn, and the occupation will be responsible for the consequences.”
The riots outside the jail soon spread out and are exploding all over Judea and Samaria. There were confrontations between Arabs and police in Hebron and Kalandia. A crowd of Arabs tried to storm into the town of Efrat, many of them were arrested and most managed to flee. Arabs tried to block the Benjamin Highway, throwing rocks at passing cars. One motorist was forced to fire his weapon in the air to disperse his attackers.
Tazpit Agency reports:
On Friday afternoon, a group of Arabs and extreme leftists reached the southern gate of the town of Efrat and tried to enter. A civilian security guard standing at the entrance managed to repel them, standing alone against the group, which was trying all it could to provoke him and get his reaction on tape.
A few minutes later an IDF force arrived and dispersed the rioters using stun grenades. Now a tense quiet has settled on the region, with security forces prepared if the rioters back.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas visited a nearby solidarity tent to support the hunger strikers in al-Bireh.
“As our dream of a state came true, I promise you the release of all prisoners from the Israeli jails,” Abbas said.
He called for agreements with Israel to be implemented regarding prisoners, and called on Arab countries to help pressure Israel.
The issue of prisoners is the most important part of the Palestinian cause, Abbas said.
Samer Issawi has been on hunger strike for 198 days, and Tareq Qaadan and Jaafar Azzidine have benn striking for 80 days. All are being held in administrative detention, without charge or trial, in Israel’s Ramle prison.
PA Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe warned Wednesday that the hunger strikes were “a countdown to disaster.”
“We are living in very dangerous moments, and we expect that any one of the hunger strikers may die at any moment amid global silence,” Qaraqe said at a meeting with UN officials in Ramallah.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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