May 23,2017

Political prisoners rushed to hospital on day 37 of hunger strike

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Seventy hunger-striking Palestinians political prisoners have been rushed to Israeli hospitals as their health continues to seriously deteriorate on the 37th day of a mass hunger-strike over prison conditions.

Simultaneously, as US President Donald Trump visited Israel, violence and clashes between protesting Palestinians and Israeli security forces raged across the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reporting more than 100 Palestinians injured, at least 20 of whom were shot with either live ammunition or rubber-coated steel bullets.

According to Israeli and Palestinian media reports, and the prisoners’ media committee, on Monday the Israeli authorities moved the hunger-striking prisoners from prison field clinics to civilian hospitals.

In a separate statement, the prisoners’ media committee said that Israel Prison Services (IPS) officials in southern Israel’s Ashkelon prison had moved all hunger-striking prisoners to the prison’s field clinic, the Palestinian news agency, Ma'an, reported.

A lawyer who visited several of the prisoners said they were showing dangerous symptoms including losing consciousness repeatedly, nausea, vomiting, severe head and limb pain, low blood pressure, low heart rates, and weight loss of at least 15 kilograms.

A number of the prisoners have also stopped drinking water while the others are subsisting on salt and water only.

Some 1 300 hunger-striking prisoners are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – among other basic rights demands.

Meanwhile, as clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces continued into Monday night and the early hours of Tuesday morning, at least 20 Palestinians were shot and injured – one seriously – during clashes in the districts of Ramallah, in the centre of the occupied territory and in Hebron in the south.

Israeli forces fired both live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian protesters who marched from Ramallah to Israel's Qalandia military checkpoint north of Jerusalem, according to Palestinian medical sources.

One of the major points of confrontation was Manger Square in Bethlehem, where Jesus was believed to have been born, and which Trump was scheduled to visit on Tuesday – the day the Palestinian leadership called for a Day of Rage.

But already by Monday Palestinian protesters had converged outside the Church of Nativity to express solidarity with the hunger-strikers.

“We came to tell you that the one who decides the fate of Palestinian people are the Palestinian refugee camps and not the Americans, the cause of the camps is the cause of all Palestinians,” one protester shouted, as dozens others gathered around him.

“The fate of Jerusalem can't be decided by Trump, for Jerusalem is Arab; Jerusalem is Palestinian, and we decide its fate, not the Americans. The only ones who supported Palestinian people are the heroic prisoners, they are strugglers, fighting with only their bodies,” the man said.

The protesters were referring to the possibility of the Americans moving their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem despite most embassies not recognising Israeli-occupied Jerusalem as Israel's capital and instead basing their embassies in Tel Aviv.

In another violent incident a 16-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli border police at Israel's "Container checkpoint" northeast of Bethlehem on Monday, after the teen allegedly attempted to stab Israeli forces stationed at the checkpoint.

According to the Israelis the boy approached Israeli forces holding a knife in his hand, and “after a short dispute, an Israeli soldier was able to open fire at the suspect who was neutralised and the knife in his possession was seized”.

However, a spokesperson from the Red Crescent said  that Israeli forces prevented the service's ambulances from reaching the boy, who witnesses say was covered with a blanket by Israeli forces.

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