Thousands rally for hunger strikers across Palestine

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Israeli border police detain a Palestinian demonstrators during a protest in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in the city of Nablus on February 22, 2013. Palestinians demanding the release of hunger-striking prisoners clashed with Israelis in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, as three fasting inmates were taken to hospitals. (Photo: AFP - Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Published Friday, February 22, 2013

Palestinians demanding the release of hunger-striking prisoners rallied across the West Bank and east Jerusalem on Friday, as three fasting inmates were taken to hospitals.

Around 2,000 Palestinians marched in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, while protesting worshipers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem threw stones at police, a police spokesman told AFP.

Dozens were injured by extensive use of tear gas.

"Stun grenades were used to disperse the rioters and police are at the moment in complete control of the situation," Micky Rosenfeld said of the Jerusalem incident, adding that there were no reports of injuries on either side.

Hundreds of demonstrators, some waving Palestinian flags, also clashed with troops at the Jalameh military checkpoint, outside the northern West Bank city of Jenin, an AFP journalist reported.

He said that protesters hurled stones at the soldiers who fired tear gas in response, but nobody was hurt.

An Israeli official, meanwhile, said that hunger strikers Tareq Qaadan, Jafar Ezzedine and Ayman Sharawrna were admitted to hospitals for protective check-ups.

"We moved them (to hospitals) because we want them examined to see if they are really alright," said Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman, adding that she expected them to stay in hospitals until Saturday.

The three along with fourth hunger striker Samer Issawi, who on Thursday was given eight months in jail for violating the terms of his release from a previous sentence, have been fasting on and off for months to demand their freedoms.

Qaadan and Ezzedine, accused of participating in activities of Islamic Jihad militant group, have been imprisoned without trial since November.

Sharawrna, an alleged Hamas activist involved in attacks on Israelis was, like Issawi freed in the 2011 swap for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and later rearrested.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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