Palestinians on Wednesday marked Prisoners’ Day, an annual event honoring the thousands of Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails. The IDF was on high alert throughout the West Bank, as such days in the past have led to rioting and altercations with security forces.
About 3,000 Palestinian prisoners refused food on Wednesday morning in solidarity with the event.
IDF and Border Police used riot control measures to disperse a group of protesters outside of Ofer Prison, near Ramallah.
The issue of Palestinian prisoners is a potent factor in Israeli-Palestinian relations. In early April, hundreds of West Bank Palestinians clashed with the IDF after the death of Maysara Abuhamdia, who died of cancer while serving a life sentence for his role in a 2002 bombing plot.
In recent years, prisoners have resorted to hunger strikes in order to protest their conditions or imprisonment, an effective strategy that has garnered media attention worldwide.
According to rights group B’Tselem, Israel holds around 4,700 security prisoners, most of them Palestinian men from the West Bank and Gaza convicted of participating in terror attacks, although 169 of those are held under administrative detention, without formally being charged.
There are over a hundred prisoners who have been held since the 1993 Oslo Accords, and their release has often been cited by Palestinian officials as a precondition for returning to peace talks with Israel.