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

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
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.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs