IDF Prepares for Clashes as Palestinians Mark Prisoners’ Day in West Bank

The issue of prisoners has garnered much attention among Palestinians in the past two weeks following the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, a Palestinian security prisoner, from cancer, while still in detention.

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In preparation for Prisoner's Day, an annual event commemorating Palestinian detainees, the Israel Defense Force has increased troops, particularly Border Police, in several West Bank locations where conflict is anticipated. 

Among the areas designated for an increased military presence are Bil’in, Qalandiyah, Beitunia and Policeman’s Square in Hebron. IDF officials also anticipate marches with thousands of Palestinians in downtown Ramallah and Hebron. 

The issue of prisoners has garnered much attention among Palestinians in the past two weeks following the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, a Palestinian security prisoner, from cancer, while still in detention. Hamdiyeh's death led to riots throughout the West Bank and particularly in Hebron, his hometown. 

Simultaneously, the condition of Samer Issawi, a Palestinian detainee who has been on a hunger strike for the past eight months, continues to deteriorate. In recent weeks, Israeli authors and intellectuals signed a petition calling for his release. Issawi, who is being held under guard at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, recently called on the Israeli public to advocate for his release from prison. 

Issawi was arrested last August after violating the conditions of his release as part of the prisoner exchange deal that freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Issawi, a resident of Isawiyah in East Jerusalem, was convicted in 2002 of membership in a terrorist organization, manslaughter, possession of arms, arms trafficking and military training. He was sentenced to 26 years in prison.  

Palestinian children taking part in a rally in front of the Red Cross headquarters in Gaza City marking Palestinian Prisoners Day, April 17, 2012.Credit: Reuters

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