Hundreds of Islamic Movement activists, community leaders, and locals attended a protest in Nazareth Saturday held to show solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners hunger striking in Israeli detention.
Saturday’s march was attended by prominent Israeli Arab MKs, among them Balad MK Hanin Zoabi, who was disqualified from running in January’s elections by the Central Election Committee before the High Court of Justice overturned the ban. The MKs, who belong to different parties, linked arms despite the political disagreements between them.
In footage taken by Channel 2, the marchers waved Palestinian flags bearing the prisoners’ photos. The protesters criticized Israel during the march for “leading to a third Intifada.”
Zoabi said Israel’s policies on security prisoners “will lead to an explosion” of Palestinian protest.
Asked if he thought a third Intifada was indeed around the corner, Islamic Movement in Israel deputy head Sheikh Kamil Khatib said that “the prisoners are the honor of the Palestinian people, and if one of them dies in prison, I believe chaos will ensue.”
Khatib asserted that the prisoners “must be released,” adding, “What will they do if there will be another Shalit?”
Demonstrators are principally demanding the release of hunger-striking prisoners Samer Issawi, Ayman Sharawneh, Tareq Qaadan, and Jafar Azzidine. Issawi has been on hunger strike for over 200 days.
Issawi and Sharawneh were previously jailed for long prison sentences for terrorist activities, but were released in 2011 as part of the prisoner exchange deal that secured the freedom of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Both men were since re-arrested for violating the terms of their release. Issawi — whose original convictions included attempted murder, for actions including opening fire on an Israel bus with an AK47 — was sentenced to eight months for the violation on Thursday.
Earlier Saturday, a Palestinian prisoner died in Israel’s Megiddo Prison, reportedly from heart failure.
The prisoner, 30-year-old Arafat Jaradat, was arrested last week on suspicion of rock-hurling. According to Ynet, Jaradat had previously sustained an injury from a rubber bullet.
Israeli media reported on Saturday night that defense establishment officials had invited the Palestinian Authority to take part in Jaradat’s post-mortem examination.