Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Palestinians protest outside Ofer military prison on ‘Day of Rage’


By Zann H. - April 29, 2017
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Section: [Main News]
Tags: [protests] [Ofer prison]

April 28 was designated as a 'Day of Rage’ across the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. As about 1,500 Palestinian prisoners entered the second week of the mass hunger strike, this is a day for all Palestinians to show that they are in solidarity with the prisoners.

The Day of Rage was called for by the Fatah movement to show Palestinian opposition to “the excessive practices of the Israeli occupation, particularly those of the Israel Prison Service," according to a statement.

“The strike on Thursday 27 April and the 'Day of Rage’ on Friday 28 April have both unified the Palestinian people,” Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative, told Palestine Monitor at a protest in the village of Rafat near Ramallah. “What we see here today and in at least 16 other places in the West Bank are popular uprising and resistance. In my opinion, these are instruments to pressure Israel to respond to the Palestinian prisoners’ demands based on basic human rights.”

    

Immediately after the mid-day prayers, around two hundred people, mostly men, boys and the media turned up in the village of Rafat, which faces the Ofer military prison. Standing on a hilltop, one can see the entire prison compound and the separation fence where some young Palestinians started throwing stones and burning car tyres.

Beside the presence of the media, most of the people who turned up displayed their support in other ways other than throwing stones. While some raised the Palestinian and Fatah flags as well as banners, others think that their presence is indicative of their solidarity.

Fakri, age 30 came to watch the demonstration and to give support for the prisoners on hunger strike. He reveals that, “I was once an inmate in Ofer,” as he waves one of his fingers which was twisted while under interrogation by the Israeli security services.

The show of solidarity encourages and emboldens the hunger strikers, according to Barghouti.

     

“This is the second time that we are demonstrating outside the Ofer prison, we were here last Friday. Some of the prisoners called me and they told me that they heard us singing songs, giving speeches as well as the sounds of the confrontation. This gives strong moral support to the prisoners in front of us. There are more than 1200 Palestinian prisoners in Ofer Prison alone, with only men and boys.”

Soon the thick black smoke from the burning car tyres attracted the attention of the Israeli soldiers who arrived in 3 jeeps successively. They started firing tear gas to disperse the crowd. Yet the stone throwers remained undeterred and responded with more intensity as the Israeli jeeps drove by.
Suddenly, one of the stone throwers collapsed in pain. He was shot in the leg by a high velocity bullet. First aid volunteers from the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) rushed to his aid and carried him to an ambulance in a stretcher.

     

The other stone throwers remained fearless as they tried to hurl stones across the separation fence while the Israeli army continued to fire tear gas and live ammunition. A few protesters were treated for excessive inhalation of tear gas by the medics.

After about 2 hours, the crowd started thinning. Across the West Bank, several protesters were injured with live and rubber-coated steel bullets, and tens were treated for tear gas inhalation, according to reports from Palestinian news agency Maan.

“This is the only country in the world where even the roads are segregated. The 'Jeep road’ is meant only for Israeli drivers and not the Palestinians,” said Barghouti.

“This is a very profound system of apartheid and the world must understand this. It is a shame that many international leaders fail to stand up for the truth. But we will not lose hope. We believe there are still some people who understand and show solidarity with us in different ways.”

 
 

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