A Palestinian Authority lawmaker recently took part in violent clashes against Israeli security forces in the West Bank, images of which were published on Monday.
In the photos, Fatah party member Jamal Hawil can be seen using a slingshot to hurl rocks at Israeli troops during a riot at the Beit El junction amid large plumes of smoke, as well as taking cover behind makeshift barricades alongside other protesters.
Asked by Channel 2 to comment on the images, Hawil tried to downplay the significance of a PA official throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers.
“It doesn’t matter if I threw rocks or not, the entire Palestinian nation throws rocks,” he said.
חבר הפרלמנט של פת"ח מאזור ג'נין ג'מאל חוויל (חבר של זכריה זביידי) שלשום בעימותים עם צה"ל ליד מחסום בית אל
— Gal Berger גל ברגר (@galberger) May 15, 2017
Hawil also appeared to justify his participation in the clashes amid the ongoing hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
“There is a problem — there is a hunger strike in the prisons, my brothers are sitting in prison and dying there,” he said.
According to Palestinian officials, 1,500 inmates have been refusing food since the strike began nearly a month ago to protest prison conditions. However, Israeli officials say only some 800 continue to refuse food and have dismissed the hunger strike as an attempt by its leader — convicted terrorist and popular Palestinian figure Marwan Barghouti — to show Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that he still wields influence on the Palestinian street.
Barghouti is serving five life sentences for his role in deadly terror attacks on Israelis. He is seen as a possible successor to Abbas.
In his comments to Channel 2, Hawil dismissed the notion that the hunger strike is a ploy by Barghouti for political gain, saying that it was actually “reversed.”
“Look at [Public Security Minister Gilad] Erdan. The situation is reversed — the Palestinian society sees Erdan and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu working against the [hunger] strike in order to obtain political gains,” he said.
Hawil, who represents the northern West Bank city of Jenin in the Palestinian Legislative Council, was first elected as a MP while serving in an Israeli prison, according to the Ynet news site.
Hawil served a six-year prison term for his membership in Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which Israel, the US and Western nations consider to be a terror group for its role organizing suicide bombings against Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.