Bethlehem, 9 Rabiul akhir1434/19 February 2013 (MINA) – In the morning on Monday, 18th February, dozens of activists gathered to deliver a letter to the UN office in Bethlehem and close Street 60 near al-Khader village, southwest of Bethlehem, in a protest in solidarity with the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners.
       Protesters began their demonstration at the UNRWA offices in Bethlehem by staging a demonstration outside of the UN office and presenting a letter addressed to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling for action on behalf of the ailing prisoners. Officials from UNRWA said they will do their utmost to make sure the letter is delivered.
      The Palestinian activists then went by bus to Street 60, which is used by settlers, to close the street as a show of solidarity with the hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli jails. They unveiled Palestinian flags, signs supporting the Palestinian Prisoners Society, and banners with the names and faces of the hunger-striking prisoners in the middle of the street and they peacefully used their bodies to halt traffic.
       The protesters included young and old Palestinians, many of whom were former prisoners or had family members or friends currently imprisoned in Israeli jails.
        They chanted and sang, calling for release the hunger-striking prisoners and standing in solidarity with them, according to reports published in monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Tuesday.
        Israeli forces arrived shortly after demonstrators blocked the street.  These armed troops forcefully prevented the protesters from continuing their activity by shoving them, hitting them with their batons, and firing sound grenades in order to force them to disperse. These assaults on the demonstrators continued for about half an hour.
        Munthir Amira, a coordinator of the event, told PNN reporters that the march today sent a strong message to the Israeli occupation that the Palestinian masses will not abandon the prisoners in the face of crimes committed against them by occupation authorities.
        Amira said that the settlers must not be safe and secure here, as they are living on Palestinian land.  He added that settlers living on land occupied since 1967 must leave these lands sooner or later, as “there is no place in Palestine for settlements and settlers.”
        Abdel Fattah Hamayel, the governor of Bethlehem, also attended the protest and called on the UN and other international organizations to act on behalf of the prisoners.  He called this a “national moral issue” and said that the prisoners are fighting for the freedom and dignity of all Palestinians and Arabs and all those in the free world.
        Abdel al-Fatah al-Khalil, the president of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, said that this event was being held to show solidarity with all of the prisoners who are subjected to the harshest abuse and torture in Israeli jails, and especially with the hunger-striking prisoners. He said that the Palestinian people will continue to stand by the prisoners at all costs.
        Spokesman for the Ministry of Palestinian Prisoners’ Affairs, Hassem Abed Rabbo, participated in the protest and he told PNN that this march is showing Israel that if they continue to ignore the demands of the prisoners on hunger strike, the Palestinian masses will nonviolently take to the streets en masse to support their important and legitimate struggle.
         He added that the Occupation Forces’ brutal suppression of this demonstration was an attempt to terrorize activists and prevent them from carrying out further solidary protests.  He called on the international community, human rights organizations, and other international institutions to act before it is too late.
         In general, there has been an escalation in popular Palestinian protest and anger in response to Israel’s aggressive practices against the hunger striking prisoners, especially Ayman al-Sharawneh and Samer al-Issawy, whose health conditions are continuing to deteriorate due to their ongoing hunger strikes. (T/P08/E1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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