Palestinian Prisoners Day Demonstrations Outside Ofer Military Prison Explode in Violence
Demonstrations held on April 16th and 17th to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day outside of the Ofer Israeli Military Prison, in the occupied West Bank, exploded in violence as occupation forces and border police fired live ammunition into the crowd of young Palestinians, shooting six in the leg and one in the face- the entry wound over his lip and the exit on his left cheek. Medics on the ground, again and again, raced the injured to a hospital nearby in Ramallah; at times making it back to the demonstration site for just minutes before another young Palestinian was on the ground bleeding.
One medic was reportedly chased and fired on with live ammunition by an occupation soldier as he rushed a wounded man up a rocky incline to get him to a waiting ambulance. Many were treated on the ground after being overwhelmed by the ever present tear gas; numerous were shot with rubber coated steel bullets and one IWPS volunteer was struck in the chest by a tear gas canister.
Three arrests were made during the first day of protest and one on the second day less than 30 minutes into the demonstration. For hours, occupation soldiers chased demonstrators on foot through the streets of the village of Beitunya, firing dozens of stun grenades, tear gas grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition at random into a crowd that consisted of young Palestinians, medics and journalists. A summation of other injuries during Palestinian Prisoner’s Day demonstrations across the occupied Palestinian territories; in Nilin: a 13 y/o, 16 y/o and 17 y/o hit with live ammunition. 17 y/o arrested. In Bilin: 17 y/o seriously injured, in Kufr Qaddum 4 demonstrators shot, one with live ammunition and an international volunteer was struck in the head with a rubber coated steel bullet.
From the Prisoners Day report on Palestinian detainees published online yesterday, “This year, April 17 comes amidst escalating Israeli violations, increasing abductions of Palestinians in different parts of occupied Palestine, and during every hour of the day and night.” To further the point, less than 48 hours before this years Prisoners Day commemoration, more than 50 Israeli military vehicles raided the city of Nablus around 2:00 a.m. Wednesday without informing the Palestinian Authority until already having entered the city. Among those kidnapped were a professor and a journalist.
‘Local sources added that Israeli forces raided the Balata refugee camp, al-Namsawi area, the Asira Street, the Old City and other neighborhoods across the city.’ http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=760485
The following day, hundreds of Palestinian children joined supporters, family and friends of those currently detained for a mass march through the streets of Nablus. Many of the youth held signs declaring, “We will never forget our prisoners.”
The Prisoners Day report goes on to note the broad issue; “The arrests target every segment of Palestinian society, while Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, since 1967 until April of 2015, around 850,000 Palestinians, including 15,000 women and thousands of children. ” https://www.facebook.com/notes/abdullah-al-mamun/prisoners-day-report-on-palestinian-detainees-their-plight/1424987804483886.
From the numerous interviews with former detainees of both Israeli prison and administrative detention facilities, the life of a Palestinian prisoner involves psychological and/or physical abuse and torture, malnutrition and collective punishment along with the systemic abuse of human rights whether they involve court documentation being in Hebrew without translated documents provided, a violation of International law, or being held for endless months, and sometimes years, before charges are even defined against prisoners, hundreds who are children. This is to say nothing of the ensuing issues of coercion and harassment that prisoners have spoke at length about.
From yesterday’s report; the detainees in numbers:
– 6,500 Palestinians still imprisoned by Israel, among them are;
1. 480 detainees sentenced to at least one life term.
2. 200 children.
3. 24 women, including four children.
4. 14 legislators and one government minister.
5. 30 detainees held before the Oslo Accord of 1993.
6. 16 detainees who have been imprisoned for more than 25 years, including Karim Younis and Maher Younis, who were kidnapped 33 years ago.
7. 85 former detainees, who were released under the Shalit Prisoner Swap Agreement, and were kidnapped again, afterwards; most of them served at least 20 years before the Shalit deal.
‘The detainees are held in 22 prisons, detention and interrogation centers, mainly in Nafha Ramon, Asqalan, Hadarim, Galboa’, Shatta, al-Maskobiyya, Ramla, Damoun, HaSharon, the Negev Detention Camp, ‘Ofer and Majeddo.’
With new arrests, raids and kidnappings reported daily, a tragic- and growing- transgression of human rights is taking place every single day inside Israel’s prison establishment, and for the thousands of Palestinians who still languish behind bars, Palestinian Prisoners Day brings prisoners voices from behind the bars of Israeli cells and denounces their every injustice. The many young Palestinians gathered at the Ofer Military Prison facility demonstrations every Friday, enduring hours of tear gas exposure and dodging both lethal and nonlethal projectiles, are a testament to the strength of the ongoing resistance to occupation, arbitrary imprisonment, collective punishment and to Israel’s prison establishments’ continued violations of Palestinian’s human rights.