Israeli forces attack Palestinian marches supporting hunger-striking prisoners

An Israeli man's auto windshield, pictured here, was smashed by Palestinian rioters in the West Bank on Thursday.

Palestinians observed a general strike today, shuttering businesses and institutions en masse in support of more than 1,600 Palestinians who have been on hunger strike in Israeli prisons since 17 April.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said in an emailed press statement that 38 were injured in total, including casualties were injured by rubber bullets and tear gas. Reports from Palestinian sources indicate the prisoners are insisting that Barghouti be on the negotiating team to end the strike but he is in solitary confinement.

Police said they were also investigating an arson attack in another nearby Palestinian village that appeared to have been carried out by Jewish settlers. Two soldiers were injured. The protesters demand to abolish the practice of unlawful detention, when detainees are kept in cells without any charges brought against them for months, lift restrictions on family visits, provide better healthcare at prisons and opportunities to receive high education.

Prior to the hunger strike, the Israeli prison administration had set up makeshift clinics inside the prisons.

Palestinians say the strike is an attempt to improve conditions inside the jails.

They said that dozens of Israeli soldiers fired smoke bombs and tear gas canisters to disperse the demonstrators, adding that the demonstrators threw stones at the soldiers, who opened fire and wounded eight of them.

Since then, Palestinians have staged demonstrations and protest marches across the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip to show solidarity with their hunger-striking compatriots.

Hundreds of Palestinians protested near an Israeli military checkpoint at Huwara, when an Israeli settler in a vehicle attempted to drive through the crowd.

A video of another settler handing out chocolates to "celebrate" the death of a young Palestinian man only served to exacerbate anger.

  • Joey Payne