Israel to hold emergency hearing for Samer Issawi

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Israeli border police officers scuffle with Palestinian demonstrators blocking a road outside the West Bank town of Bethlehem, during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails on 18 February 2013. (Photo: Reuters - Ammar Awad)

Published Monday, February 18, 2013

Israel's Magistrate's Court decided on Monday to hold a hearing Tuesday for Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi, who has been on a hunger strike for 210 days.

Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted Director of the Prisoners' Club in Jerusalem Nasser Qaws, who said Israel decided on the emergency court session without prior warning.

Meanwhile, demonstrations in support of Palestinians prisoners on hunger strike continued unabated Monday across the West Bank, despite continued confrontation with Israeli military forces.

In Bethlehem, Israeli forces dispersed several dozen activists who blocked a road on Monday.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, about 50 activists demonstrated at a UN office.

Israeli forces used tear gas and sound bombs to disperse demonstrators, a Ma’an news agency correspondent reported.

The Palestinian Authority's Minister for Prisoners' Affairs Issa Qaraqe warned against continued strikes and popular uprisings should Israel refuse to respond to the demands of prisoners, according to Ma’an.

“International and regional pressures are being exerted on Israel intensively to save the lives of prisoner strikers, and President [Mahmoud Abbas] is personally following these moves to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe against the prisoners," Qaraqe added.

The protests were in support of Issawi and three other hunger strikers Ayman Sharawneh, Jaafar Ezzedine, and Tarek Qa'adan.

Issawi has become a symbol of the Palestinian struggle against arbitrary administrative detention and poor living conditions in Israeli jails.

Israel uses incarceration as an integral tool in its policy of control of Palestinians. The Jewish state is holding some 4,500 Palestinians for charges ranging from throwing stones to undertaking deadly militant attacks.

(Al-Akhbar, Ma’an, AP)


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