Protests Held for Palestinian Prisoners
Hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem on Saturday held rallies demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, many of whom are currently on hunger strike.
In Ramallah, about 500 Palestinians took part in a rally organized by the radical Islamic movement Hamas, an Agence France Presse correspondent said, in what was the first time in two years the West Bank city's Fatah rulers allowed the rival Palestinian faction to hold a demonstration.
And in east Jerusalem, 300 Palestinians marched from the gates of the Old City to the Red Cross compound, carrying portraits of prisoners and hanging Palestinian flags on the offices of Israel's state attorney.
A police spokeswoman told AFP no arrests were made.
At least 1,550 Palestinian prisoners are now on hunger strike in Israeli jails, the bulk of whom began refusing food on April 17.
The prisoners are calling for improved prison conditions, including increased access to lawyers and family visits, an end to solitary confinement and a halt to administrative detention.
Two Palestinians, Bilal Diab, 34, and 27-year-old Thaer Halahla, have been on hunger strike for 67 days.
On Friday, a Hamas leader warned Israel of consequences if any of the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike dies in jail.
"You must realize that the hunger strike isn't a party, and we could be surprised by the death of some of them," Khalil al-Haya said at a solidarity tent for the strikers in the center of Gaza City.
"If that happens, you can expect both the expected and the unexpected from us," he said.
The radical Islamic Jihad movement has threatened to no longer observe a truce with Israel if one of the hunger strikers dies.
On Friday, the Palestinian representative to the United Nations said 10 hunger strikers had been moved to a hospital because of their deteriorating health.
Israel Prison Services spokeswoman Sivan Weizman clarified on Saturday that "besides Bilal Diab, there are no other prisoners in hospitals. There are 10 other prisoners in the IPS infirmary in Ramle," she told AFP.
She said they had been transferred "a while ago."