News / Middle East

Palestinians Close Shops in Support of Prisoners

Across the entire Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank, businesses and shops closed as a sign of support for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike being held in Israeli jails. Pedestrians walk by locked shops in Ramallah, June 8, 2014.
Across the entire Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank, businesses and shops closed as a sign of support for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike being held in Israeli jails. Pedestrians walk by locked shops in Ramallah, June 8, 2014.
VOA News
Shops were shuttered in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday in solidarity with nearly 300 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike against Israeli detention without trial.

Also on Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet made changes in a law that could block amnesty for Palestinians imprisoned for murdering Israelis.
 
Black-and-white flags bearing slogans such as “Freedom for Prisoners” and “Chains must be broken” flew in the streets of Ramallah, the Palestinian commercial capital.
 
In Hebron, also in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, dozens of Palestinian protesters marched in the streets in support of the hunger strikers.
 
The hunger strike was begun on April 24 by a group of 120  prisoners held under what Israel terms “administrative detention” - or incarceration without trial - of Palestinians suspected of security offenses.
 
They were later joined by 170 other inmates who also demanded that Israel abolish the procedure, which has drawn international criticism.
 
Israel's Prisons Service said 65 hunger strikers were being treated in hospitals, although none were in critical condition and all were conscious. A Palestinian lawyer who has visited some of the hospitalized inmates put the number of prisoners who had required hospital care at 100.
 
“The weight of striking prisoners has gone down by an average of 16 kilograms,” Jawad Bolus told Reuters.
 
On Friday, a U.N. spokesman said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was concerned about “reports regarding the deteriorating health of Palestinian administrative detainees”. Ban, the spokesman said, reiterated his long-standing position that they be charged or released without delay.
 
Israel argues administrative detentions are sometimes necessary to avoid court proceedings that could expose sensitive intelligence information or informants.
 
Lawyers who visited prisoners over the past several weeks said Israel had begun a dialog with some of the hunger strikers' representatives but no progress had been made.
 
Palestinians regard those jailed by Israel as heroes in a struggle for statehood.

Changes to law
 
Israel says Palestinians involved in violent anti-Israeli activities are terrorists, and it is in the process of enacting a law aimed at blocking, in any future peace talks, the release of prisoners convicted of killing Israelis.
 
Legislation that would enable judges to declare convicted killers ineligible for presidential pardons was approved by the full Israeli cabinet on Sunday for submission to parliament, a month after a ministerial committee gave the bill the go-ahead.

The bill must pass two more readings in parliament before becoming law.

Ayelet Shaked of the far-right Jewish Home party who initiated the change said it was aimed at preventing the release of Palestinian militants who killed Israelis as well as other murderers, the French news agency AFP reported.
 
"The mass release of terrorists through diplomatic deals makes a mockery of the Israeli public as does shortening the prison terms of criminal murderers," she said in a statement.
 
The latest round of U.S.-led peace talks collapsed in April after Israel refused to release a fourth and last round of 26 long-term prisoners imprisoned for killing Israelis, breaching a commitment made in 2013.
 
Throughout the talks, Israel released 78 of the promised 104 prisoners, in a move that angered hardliners.
 
Zehava Gal-On of the dovish Meretz party said the amendment would tie Israel's hands in future talks and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of "capitulating to the extreme right and supporting a demagogic law," according to the AFP report.

In a separate development, the Israeli government is also seeking to push through legislation which would allow for the forced medical treatment, including feeding of
Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, the AFP reported.
 
Vatican meeting

Pope Francis used his Sunday address at the Vatican to thank the faithful for their spiritual support ahead of an evening prayer meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the AP reported.
 
A group of Palestinians attended the Angelus, waving flags and greeting Pope Francis. 
 
Vatican officials insist no political agenda is lurking behind Pope Francis' invitation to the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to pray for peace together in the Vatican gardens, and no concrete initiatives are expected.
 
But Sunday's unusual summit - with Jewish, Christian and Muslim prayers intoned in the shadow of St. Peter's Basilica - could take on great significance on the ground.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs