Israeli journalists injured as protesters approach Ofer Prison, throwing stones and burning tires

Three Israeli journalists were injured Thursday as thousands of Palestinians demonstrated at the Beitunia military checkpoint near the Ofer Prison outside Ramallah, calling for the release of inmates who are on a hunger strike.

Dozens of the protesters threw stones at security forces and burned tires. The police dispersed the crowd using tear gas and rubber-coated bullets injuring five.

Channel 1 journalist Yoram Cohen was hit in the head by a stone and was taken to hospital for medical attention. Channel 10 reporter Roy Sharon and photographer were also injured and received treatment on the spot.

Israeli journalists injured as protesters approach Ofer Prison, throwing stones and burning tires

The demonstrators were demanding the release of hunger-striking prisoners Samer Issawi, Ayman Sharawneh, Tareq Qaadan, and Jafar Azzidine. Issawi has been on hunger strike for over 200 days.

Other protests were being held across the West Bank.

According to media watchdog Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), Issawi and Sharawneh were previously jailed for long prison sentences for terrorist activities, but were released in 2011 as part of the prisoner exchange deal that secured the freedom of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Both men were since re-arrested on charges that they continued to engage in militant activities against the terms of their release. Tariq Qaadan and Jafar Ezzedine are both from Arabe near Jenin and are both are senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives.

On Tuesday Fatah officials warned of an increase in violence in the West Bank if the prisoners were not immediately released. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged a solution to prisoners crisis and raised particular concern over their being held in administrative detention without a trial.

On Wednesday Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition for the release of Sharawneh.


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