Israelis wound hundreds in attack on Kitziot prisoners

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WHILE Olmert and Bush have been, and are, posing as peacemakers with their forthcoming fraud of a peace conference, a most violent and vicious assault is continuing against defenceless Palestinian prisoners at the Kitziot camp in the Negev Desert.

A Palestinian detainee was killed and 250 others wounded in clashes that erupted after 535 ruthless anti-inmate riot police of the Nahshon unit stormed about 2,000 detainees using ‘classified’ equipment (poison gas, stun grenades and other anti-personnel weapons) at about 2am. on Monday, amid an Israeli media blackout.

Mohammad Safi al-Ashqar, 33, died of his injuries later in an Israeli hospital. He was serving a two-year sentence for sheltering a Palestinian anti-Israeli occupation activist from the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, the main group representing Palestinians held by the IOF, said that more than 11,000 Palestinians held in Israel went on hunger strike from yesterday to protest against the ‘repressions’ at Kitziot prison camp.

The Israeli prison authorities refused to allow journalists to enter the camp or interview detainees on Monday, saying they feared the media’s presence could reignite the riots. Photographers were barred for the same reason.

Major General Eli Gavison said that jailers had fired ‘non-lethal objects’ at the crowd of detainees which caused the prisoner’s injury. He refused to specify the exact ‘non-lethal means’ the wardens had used, explaining that the nature of the equipment used by the Israeli Police Service’s specialised riot dispersal unit is classified.

535 wardens participated in the raid. They stormed into the prison’s security wing, which houses those convicted of anti-occupation activity, looking for weapons and information about possible escape plans by detainees.

When the jailers entered the ward, the prisoners erupted throwing vegetables and other objects at the wardens, and took apart their beds and used them as clubs with which to attack the IPS warders.

Inmates set fire to tents and threw objects at the advancing jail guards, who used riot dispersal methods to control the unrest. Some of the detainees also set fire to the tents in which they are housed, destroying 10 of them before the blaze was extinguished.

A Palestinian human rights organisation quoted by the Maan news agency said prisoners telephoned it to report that a Nahshon unit had stormed the Palestinian sections – where prisoners are housed mainly in tents – armed with clubs, shields, sonic bombs and tear gas canisters.

Palestinian demonstrators protested against Israeli repression of detainees in the southern and northern West Bank cities of Hebron and Nablus respectively.

The Palestinian presidency and Cabinet condemned the Israeli ‘aggression.’

The British trade unions cannot just stand by and watch these brutal attacks on Palestinian prisoners who are fighting an illegal almost six decade long occupation of Palestine.

They must demand that the British government stop sending military equipment to Israel.

The TUC must call a trade and cultural boycott of Israel and spread it internationally through the world trade union movement.

It must last until every Palestinian prisoner is freed, and a Palestinian state established with East Jerusalem as its capital, and with every Palestinian refugee having the right to return.