Palestinian protesters, Israeli soldiers clash outside prison

JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 100 Palestinians protesting outside a West Bank prison in support of hunger-striking inmates clashed with Israeli soldiers.

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Tuesday’s rally outside Ofer Prison took place as some 800 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails held a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with several long-term hunger strikers, including Samer Issawi, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 200 days and is said to be near death, the Maan Palestinian news service reported.

Issawi was released in the 2011 prisoner swap to free captive soldier Gilad Shalit but was later rearrested.

Maan reported that Israeli forces fired tear gas at protesters and Palestinian youths responded by throwing stones at the soldiers.

The protest comes a day after Palestinian rallies across the West Bank in support of the hunger strikers also resulted in clashes with Israeli soldiers. A rally of some 1,000 Palestinians also was held outside Ofer Prison on Feb. 15.

The four long-term hunger strikers are being held in administrative detention, under which a prisoner can be held without charges for up to four months. The administrative detention also can be renewed.

In a related incident Monday, some 3,000 Jewish-owned grapevines located near Shiloh in the West Bank were cut by what is believed to be Palestinian vandals. The damage was estimated at more than $50,000.