Palestinians protest to support prisoners in Israeli jails

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GAZA CITY: Several thousand people protested in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip on Tuesday to mark an annual day in support of Palestinians jailed by Israel.

A few thousand gathered in the Gaza Strip, while there were smaller demonstrations across the West Bank as Palestinians marked Prisoners’ Day.

Israeli forces used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, dozens of whom suffered from excessive teargas inhalation.

Similar rallies were also seen in the cities of Nablus, Jenin, Bethlehem, Hebron, Tulkarem and Qalqilya, where protesters called for the “immediate release” of longstanding Palestinian detainees.

Around 6,500 Palestinians, including 62 women and 350 children, are currently in Israeli prisons for a range of offenses and alleged crimes, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club.

Of those, around 500 are detained under so-called administrative detention laws, it says.

Administrative detention allows Israel to detain people without charge or trial for renewable six-month periods.

The prisoners’ club also says around one million Palestinians have been detained by Israel since the country was founded in 1948.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners Society, 214 Palestinians have died in Israeli custody since 1967.

Of these, seven were shot, 72 were tortured to death and 59 died due to a lack of medical attention.

The Society also said almost 60 percent of detained Palestinian children are subject to some form of physical and/or psychological torture.

Dozens of girls carrying photographs of women prisoners demonstrated on Tuesday outside the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), west of Gaza City.

Speakers at the rally urged ICRC and other international organizations to exert pressure on Israeli authorities to improve the living condition of Palestinian prisoners and set them free.

Speakers at the rally urged ICRC and other international organizations to exert pressure on Israeli authorities to improve the living condition of Palestinian prisoners and set them free.

In Nablus in the northern West Bank, around 1,000 people gathered, while a few hundred demonstrated in Bethlehem and Ramallah.

The policy, which allows suspects to be held without trial or charge for renewable six-month periods, was first established by British colonialist forces during Palestine’s British Mandate period (1923-1948).

Palestinians have been marking the Prisoners Day on April 17 each year since 1974.

At a weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said it is the time to consider and treat Palestinians, who have been imprisoned in Israeli jails, as “prisoners of war.”

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