Two Palestinians carrying knives arrested during Hebron protest
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Two Palestinians carrying knives arrested during Hebron protest

Protesters clash with IDF troops during demo in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike; Barghouti calls to ‘rise up against humiliation’

Palestinian youths clash with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Hebron on May 5, 2017, after a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
Palestinian youths clash with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Hebron on May 5, 2017, after a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. (AFP/Hazem Bader)

Two Palestinians carrying knives were arrested by Israeli security forces on Friday in Hebron during a protest that broke out near a checkpoint in the West Bank city.

The two were said to have approached a group of soldiers, raising their suspicions. They were searched and once the knives were found were taken in for questioning.

The protest was in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails currently on a hunger strike.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, three Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli troops near Nablus.

Palestinians across the West Bank have been protesting in recent weeks in support of the mass Palestinian hunger strike, launched by convicted terrorist and popular Palestinian figure Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms for orchestrating deadly attacks.

Palestinians hold flags bearing portraits of convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah in support of prisoners on hunger strike on April 24, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
Palestinians hold flags bearing portraits of convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah in support of prisoners on hunger strike on April 24, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Palestinian officials say some 1,500 security prisoners are participating in the hunger strike that began on April 17, with detainees ingesting only water and salt in protest of their conditions.

It is unclear how many have been on strike for the full period as some of the original participants have since pulled out while others appeared to have joined.

Israel Prison Service spokesman Assaf Librati said earlier this week that 870 prisoners are still refusing to eat.

Barghouti is popular among Palestinians, with polls suggesting he could win the Palestinian presidency. Many Israeli and Palestinian analysts have speculated that Barghouti organized the strike in a bid to boost his declining power in Palestinian politics.

Over the past three weeks, support for the hunger strike has gained momentum, with West Bank marches, strikes and backing on Palestinian social media.

Among the demands made by Barghouti and fellow prisoners are the resumption of a second monthly visit by family members (a benefit that was canceled by the International Committee of the Red Cross last year due to budget cuts), the prevention of family meetings being canceled for security reasons, extending the length of each visit from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and the restoration of academic studies and matriculation exams for prisoners.

Other demands include more television channels being available in cells and the installation of public telephones in security wings.

Barghouti on Friday published a letter in the Lebanese paper al-Mayadeen, telling the striking prisoners that they should “rise up against the humiliation we are undergoing.”

He said the strike was an “inseparable part” of the Palestinian struggle for “freedom and respect.”

He added that he was placed in solitary confinement as a result of the strike, according to a translation of his remarks published in the Hebrew-language media.

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