Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Palestinian cities shut down for general strike in solidarity with prisoners


By The Palestine Monitor - April 27, 2017
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [In Pictures]
Tags: [Hunger Strike] [prisoners] [protests]

Palestinian cities ground to a halt today as a general strike was announced in solidarity with an estimated 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons.

On Thursday morning, Ramallah's usually bustling city centre looked like a ghost town as all shops stayed close for the day, until hundreds of Palestinians marched through its streets in solidarity with the hunger strikers.

“The fact that the strike succeeded in Jerusalem and in Gaza as well means the prisoners are unifying all Palestinian people, regardless of the internal division and regardless of the oppression of the occupation,” Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, told Palestine Monitor at the protest. “It's one of the fantastic days that remind us of the popular non-violent resistance of the first intifada in Palestine.”

The mass hunger strike, the largest in recent years, was launched on April 17 with a series of demands to improve prisoners' conditions. Their main request concerns regular family visits. While prison regulations allow family members to visit prisoners twice a month, Palestinians who wish to visit their loved ones in prison have to apply for permits to travel to Israel - where all except one of the prisons are located. Permits are often denied, and prisoners from Gaza go for years without seeing their families.

Israel has so far refused to negotiate with the prisoners, however the Israeli government has negotiated with hunger strikers in the past. According to the Palestinian Prisoners Society, some of the prisoners taking part in the strike have now been put in solitary confinement.

Among those taking part in the Ramallah protest, which ended at a solidarity tent set up in one of the city's main squares, were family members of the prisoners on hunger strike.

19-year-old Atiyah Fuqaha told Palestine Monitor she came to the protest in support of her brother, Alaa Fuqaha, imprisoned during the second intifada. She's not been able to see him since then.

“I never really met him,” Atiyah said. “But I'm here to support him and all other prisoners,” she added.

The Palestinian leadership announced Friday to be a “day of rage”, and called on Palestinians to “clash with the occupier”. Demonstrations will take place tomorrow in towns and villages across the West Bank after Friday prayers.

Political and religious figures of different stripes have taken to the streets on several occasions since the hunger strike began 11 days ago. The third week is said to be critical for hunger strikers as that is when health conditions may begin to take a turn for the worse.
 

     

     A young woman holds the poster of a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike at a demonstration in Ramallah on Thursday.

 

 Political and religious leaders from a number of Palestinian political parties have been taking part in regular protests since the hunger strike began.

 

     

 Relatives of Palestinians in Israeli prisons gather daily at a solidarity tents set up in every city.

 

Banners in clock square, where the Ramallah demonstration ended on Thursday.

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