Palestinians take part in a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad - RTS12MDW

Palestinian prisoners declare a hunger strike

Palestinians demonstrated across the Palestinian territories, in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in support of a hunger strike by hundreds of incarcerated Palestinians in Israeli jails. The Palestinian prisoners have several demands with two primary requests. The first directed at Israel, where they demand public telephones installed in their wards, as is the case in criminal prisons; while the second demand is directed at the Red Cross, requesting the international body to increase the number of family visits from once to twice a month, after the Red Cross, some nine months ago, lowered the number of family visits due to some monetary issues. 

Israel declared the hunger-strike by the Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are convicted terrorists, was politically motivated by prominent prisoner Marwan Barghouti who, even though is serving five life terms after being convicted of murder in the killing of Israelis in several terror attacks between the years 2000 and 2005, is widely seen as a possible future Palestinian president, and is using the strike to increase his support among his people. In response to Barghouti’s call for the hunger-strike, hundreds of Palestinians rallied in show of support for the prisoners. In the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the protests quickly turned violent, when the demonstrators hurled rockets at Israeli border police forces who responded with crowed dispersal means.  No injuries were reported.