46 Palestinian prisoners begin hunger strike

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A TOTAL of 46 Palestinian detainees began an open-ended hunger strike on Thursday in protest against their improper living conditions, said a lawyer representing the Palestine Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

Jacqueline Fararjeh said the detainees at Etzion jail were starting an open-ended hunger strike in protest of the quality and quantity of food served to them and inadequate basic services and medical care. She said the majority of hunger-striking detainees have not bathed in 15 days, highlighting their lack of regular access to showers.

Fararjeh explained that although eleven Palestinians are placed under administrative detention, implying that they should be transferred from Etzion prison, they have not been transferred due to overcrowding at other prisons. The rest of the detainees have been detained for over 15 days in Etzion prison although the facility itself is ill-equipped to receive prisoners for such a long period.

She concluded that Etzion prison falls under the Israeli military jurisdiction, not that of the central Israeli Prison Service, and is considered one of the worst detention centres where Palestinians are held.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers on Thursday attacked the outskirts of Asira al-Qiblia, a village to the south of Nablus, according to local witnesses. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in northern West Bank, said settlers from nearby Yitzhar settlement broke into the eastern outskirts of Asira al-Qiblia, where they smashed a car which belongs to a local Palestinian.

The attacking settlers also attempted to assault a house in the village, before villagers fended them off. Violence by illegal settlers is commonplace. They have repeatedly attacked Palestinian property and worship places. According to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation: ‘Israeli civilians have perpetrated various forms of violence against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, damaging their lands, their persons and their property.’

It explained: ‘In recent years, settlers have carried out violent acts under the slogan “price tag.” These are acts of violence aimed at the Palestinian population and Israeli security forces.’ B’Tselem has documented many such acts including the blocking of roads, throwing stones at cars and houses, making incursions into Palestinian villages and land, torching fields, uprooting trees, and other damage to property.

Settlers’ violence includes property and mosque arsons, stone-throwing, uprooting of crops and olive trees, attacks on vulnerable homes, among others. Israeli forces overnight Thursday detained nine more Palestinians from a number of West Bank districts, said the Palestine Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and security sources.

Israeli forces detained Muhammad As-Safarini, Abdul-Latif Tuba, 22, and his brother, Muhammad, 19, from the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem. To the south of Tulkarem, in Qalqiliya, forces detained Qusai Odwan, 18, and Ghalib Shbeita, 24. In the southern West Bank district of Jerusalem, forces detained two Palestinians after breaking into and ransacking their houses in al-Issawiya, identified as Younes Alayyan and Ali Mheisen.

To the south of Jerusalem, in Hebron district, forces detained Wael Masalmeh. Forces also detained a 15-year-old girl identified as Hadiya Ereinat from al-Auja town, north of the city. Earlier Wednesday, forces detained 10 other Palestinians from several West Bank districts. This brought the total number of Palestinians detained since Thursday overnight to 19.

Israeli forces detained five Palestinians, who remain unidentified, after breaking into and ransacking their houses in Iraq Burin village, south of the city. The detention raid came as Israeli forces closed the entrance of the village with earth mounds following an alleged stabbing attack.

Forces also sealed all roads leading out of the northern West Bank city, including Huwwara checkpoint, Awarta checkpoint and Yitzhar road that connect Nablus with the northern West Bank cities of Tulkarem and Qalqiliya, for Palestinian traffic travelling both ways.

To the north of Nablus, in Jenin district, forces detained three Palestinians, including one on a northern Jordan Valley checkpoint, and physically assaulted another. Forces detained Imad Saba’na, 19, and Yazid Arqawi, 17, after breaking into and ransacking their family houses in Jenin city.

During the raid into the family house of Arqawi, forces locked the family inside a room, and interrogated and physically assaulted Yazid’s cousin, Ahmad, 17. After being brutally beaten up, Yazid was rushed into a Jenin hospital for treatment. In addition, a Palestinian from the city was detained while attempting to cross al-Hamra military checkpoint in the northern Jordan Valley. The detainee was identified as Muwaffaq Abul-Hasan.

Another Palestinian from the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem was detained after he appeared before Israeli intelligence. Muhammad Awad, 20, was interrogated and detained after he turned himself to intelligence at Checkpoint 300, located between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. This came as forces raided Hindaza, a village to the south of the city, where they stormed and ransacked Anwar Zbun and Nasser Jubran’s family houses.

Soldiers also stormed and tampered with the possessions of Isma’il Hamamra, Yasser Hamamra and Abdul-Aziz Shusha during a predawn raid into Husan village, west of the city. To the south of Bethlehem, in Hebron city, forces detained Fadi al-Tamimi, 23, after storming and ransacking his family house in the city.

This came as forces stepped up movement restrictions at the entrances of Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron. Local activist Muhammad Awad as said Israeli forces stopped Palestinian-registered vehicles travelling northbound and inspected passengers’ identity cards.

• On Wednesday night, President Mahmoud Abbas in a speech that inaugurated the 16th session of Fatah Revolutionary Council held in Ramallah reaffirmed his support for a French initiative to convene an international peace conference intended to revive the frozen Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

He referred to the Palestinian leadership’s efforts to push for a UN Security Council resolution to halt Israeli settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian Territories and affirmed the illegality of settlements’ construction.

Referring to recent wave of violence that gripped Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories since early October, Abbas said the peaceful popular uprising is a response to Israel’s occupation practices and lack of commitment to implement signed agreements.

He added that the uprising was a response to Israeli violations of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, detentions, house demolitions, killings and displacement of Palestinians, closures and Gaza blockade. Abbas reiterated his opposition to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and rejected any foreign intervention in Palestine’s internal affairs.

Referring to the killing of Palestinian former prisoner Omar al-Nayef, Abbas said that a special committee has started inquiry into the circumstances surrounding al-Nayef’s killing and that the inquiry findings would be publicly announced.

Abbas also referred to the Palestinian public teachers’ ongoing strike, calling on teachers to return to work. He affirmed the government’s commitment to immediately implement an agreement that was hammered out with the Teachers’ Union. He also stressed the need for national reconciliation based on a national unity government representing all factions that would prepare for general elections.