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Massive Palestinian Riots Erupt in the West Bank

Hundreds of Palestinians clash with IDF around hunger strike

Adam Chandler
February 15, 2013
Palestinians Riot Outside Ofer Prison in the West Bank(AP)
Palestinians Riot Outside Ofer Prison in the West Bank(AP)

Rocks and Molotov cocktails were hurled at IDF soldiers, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, as hundreds of Palestinians rioted in Betunia, a town just west of Ramallah.

The Israeli military said about 200 Palestinians threw rocks at soldiers who responded with tear gas during the rally outside Ofer prison in the West Bank. The protesters called for the release of Samer Issawi, who has been on an on-again, off-again hunger strike for several months as he serves time for alleged terror activity.

Other accounts cited as many as 300 rioters involved. Issawi had been released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal last year, but then recaptured over the summer for allegedly violating the terms of his release. Elsewhere in the West Bank, smaller protests broke out:

Smaller demonstrations in solidarity with the hunger strikers were also held across the West Bank on Friday, including in Bethlehem, Jenin and outside the settlement of Efrat, according to Ma’an.

Sixty Palestinians gathered at Kafr Qaddum, west of Nablus, and hurled rocks and firebombs at soldiers. The soldiers were dealing with that incident.

Some 80 Palestinians appeared at Nabi Salah, near Ramallah, to take part in a violent disturbance, and 30 Palestinians attacked soldiers in the Kalandiya area, between Ramallah and Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appeared at another protest near Ramallah and said that the hunger strikes will be part of his agenda when he meets with President Barack Obama next month.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.