Thousands of Palestinian prisoners refused breakfast Wednesday, according to Israeli Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman, in what is believed to be a renewed mass hunger strike.
At least four riots broke out in Israeli jails after news of a Palestinian prisoner’s death leaked Tuesday, Weizman told AFP. Nearly 4,600 Palestinians – the approximate number of the prisoner population – then turned down a meal, she added.
Israel’s Jerusalem Post said that guards at Ramon responded with tear gas, resulting in three prisoners and six guards being treated for tear gas inhalation.
As punishment for protests over the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, 64, IPS informed 86 Palestinian prisoners Wednesday that they would be moved to different prisons, a detainee center told Palestine’s Ma’an news agency.
Palestinian prisoners from all factions Tuesday announced a three day hunger strike, according to Ma’an. Thousands of prisoners refused food during mass hunger strikes last year, including three still on long-term hunger strikes. Palestinian Samer Issawi is said to be teetering on the brink of death after more than 250 days of hunger strike.
Abu Hamdiyeh died of cancer Tuesday after Israel had allegedly neglected his medical condition. Lawyers and relatives report that prison doctors informed him of his disease six months after running biopsy tests on him, and then failed to provide him with adequate treatment. He was told about his cancer in February, and died less than two months later.
General strike observed
The Palestinian Authority announced a three-day general strike across the West Bank to mourn Abu Hamdiyeh’s death, and denounce Israel’s mistreatment of the cancer patient, which it likened to a “slow death penalty.”
Schools, shops and offices Wednesday were closed in Hebron, Abu Hamdiyeh’s hometown, where protesters clashed with the army for the second day running, an AFP correspondent said.
A full strike was also being observed in the northern West Bank city of Nablus where thousands of demonstrators gathered in the city center for a mass rally, another correspondent said.
A strike was also observed in annexed east Jerusalem ahead of the arrival of Abu Hamdiyeh’s body at Abu Dis medical center where it was to undergo a Palestinian autopsy. His funeral will be held on Thursday.
In Ramallah and the Gaza Strip, the strike was being partially observed, other AFP correspondents said.
Meanwhile, 20 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces across the West Bank early Wednesday, according to Ma’an.
According to an Israeli military statement, the 20 Palestinians detained were “taken for security questioning,” Ma’an reported.
Abu Hamdiyeh is the second Palestinian to die in Israeli custody this year. Arafat Jaradat, 30, died after an interrogation session in February. Palestinian officials said he had been tortured, an allegation Israel denied.