Palestinian Prisoner on Hunger Strike Gets Eight Months

YERUSHALAYIM -
 Israeli soldiers face off with hundreds of Palestinian rioters next to Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, after a demonstration in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Sameer Essawi. (Flash90)
Israeli soldiers face off with hundreds of Palestinian rioters next to Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, after a demonstration in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Sameer Essawi. (Flash90)

A court in Yerushalayim on Thursday sentenced Sameer Essawi, the Palestinian prisoner whose intermittent hunger strike sparked riots this week, to an eight-month term in prison.

During a protest march of hundreds of Palestinians in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners earlier on Thursday, several people, including troops, demonstrators and two Israeli journalists, were injured outside the Ofer security prison adjacent to the Beitunia crossing two miles west of Ramallah.

According to one Israeli media report quoting “activists,” some 40 people were injured.

Reporter Yoram Cohen was struck in the head by a rock thrown by a Palestinian. Paramedics evacuated the journalist to Hadassah University Medical Center, Israel Radio reported.

Another journalist, a photographer, was hit in the chest and evacuated for treatment. According to Israel Radio, the IDF used riot dispersal methods to quell the clashes, including tear-gas canisters.

A tear-gas canister reportedly hit Palestinian activist Abir Kopty in the head. According to activists, she was evacuated to a hospital in Ramallah.

Pan-Arab newspaper Al-Arab reported plans for further demonstrations through the end of the week.

Since he has so far served over half a year of his sentence, Essawi may be released on March 6. He was one of over 1,000 prisoners freed in 2011 in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and was re-arrested for violation of the terms of his release.

Essawi was among 14 Palestinians re-arrested after the prisoner swap due to Israel’s charge that they broke the terms of their release. Two, including Essawi, are currently listed as being on a hunger strike.