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Clashes as Arabs Demonstrate in Favor of Hunger Strikers

Dozens wounded as PA Arabs stage solidarity events for terrorist prisoners held by Israel and on hunger strike.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 2/15/2013, 8:27 PM

PA protester throws a Molotov cocktail towards Israeli troops
PA protester throws a Molotov cocktail towards Israeli troops
Reuters

Dozens of people were wounded on Friday afternoon, as Palestinian Authority Arabs around Judea and Samaria staged solidarity events for terrorist prisoners held by Israel and on hunger strike, challenging IDF troops who came to disperse the riots.

Near Ramallah, some 3,000 PA Arabs held a protest march to the Ofer military prison that erupted into violent clashes with soldiers, AFP reported.

PA medical sources and eyewitnesses said two demonstrators were wounded by live gunfire, and 20 more by rubber-coated bullets.

A spokeswoman for the IDF told AFP that live bullets were fired in the air after soldiers felt they were in "immediate danger" from rocks that were hurled at them by the Arab rioters.

At the Jalama checkpoint, 1,000 Arabs clashed with Israeli soldiers, an AFP correspondent said, with four injured by live gunfire and 20 by gas. Another 10 were arrested.

The IDF spokeswoman said 150 Arab rioters had thrown rocks at soldiers, and confirmed 10 were detained.

Two IDF soldiers were lightly wounded from the rocks thrown by the Arabs near the Ofer Prison.

Four terrorist prisoners are currently on long-term hunger strike -- Samer Assawi, Jaafar Ezzedine, Ayman Sharawneh and Tareq Qaadan. Hunger striking has become a common tactic among jailed terrorists to pressure Israel to release them. Israel has in the past caved to the pressure.

Channel 2 News reported that among those who took part in Friday’s rallies was Israeli Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi, who issued a warning to Israel, saying, “If one hunger striking prisoner dies - the occupation will bear the responsibility."

On Tuesday, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called on the international community to intervene urgently in support of the hunger striking prisoners, warning that “things may get out of control” if it does not intervene.

On Wednesday, Egypt expressed "concern" for the well-being of the hunger strikers in Israeli prisons and warned that endangering their lives could inflame tensions in PA-assigned areas.

Also on Wednesday, a United Nations official expressed concern about the well-being of Palestinian Authority Arab terrorist detainees in Israeli prisons and in particular about the condition of hunger striker Samer Issawi.

International Quartet representative Tony Blair on Friday expressed "concern" over the "deteriorating health condition of the four prisoners, one of whom has been on a hunger strike for over 200 days."

"Israel must respect the human rights of all prisoners and provide them with all necessary medical assistance and legal recourse to due process according to international standards," Blair said in a statement, according to AFP.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)