Israeli forces detain 6 Palestinian students marching in solidarity with hunger strikers

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained six Palestinian students from Birzeit University on Tuesday evening, including three women, when clashes erupted near Israel’s Ofer detention center in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.

Five of the detainees were identified by locals as Ahmad Khader, Hassan Daraghma, Miran al-Barghouthi, Bayan Safi, and Zeinab al-Barghouthi. Israeli military jeeps chased the students, assaulted, and detained them before transferring them to Ofer.

The student movements had called for a march in front of Ofer in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners, Muhammad al-Qiq, a former head of the student council at the university, and Jamal Abu al-Leil from Qalandiya refugee camp.

Israeli forces responded to the march by firing tear gas, stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets, and live fire at students, many of whom suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that Israeli forces detained six Birzeit University students, including three young women. She said they six were in their twenties and residents of Beituniya and the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
The students, she said, were “caught red-handed” throwing stones at Israeli troops near the Beituniya military checkpoint.
Qalandiya refugee camp residents Jamal Abu al-Leil, 50, and Raed Fayez Mteir, 47, declared hunger strikes on Feb. 16, after being imprisoned by Israel without charge or trial for one year under the widely condemned policy of administrative detention. Mteir has since ended his strike.
Israeli authorities had issued six-month administrative detention orders for the two prisoners three times since they were detained.
Abu al-Leil is a former member of Fatah’s revolutionary council, while Mteir is head of the Qalandiya youth center. Both had been previously detained by Israel several times.
Last week, Israeli authorities transferred the two hunger strikers out of Ktziot prison, sending Abu al-Leil to Eshel prison and Mteir to Ashkelon prison.
The two have joined imprisoned journalist Muhammad al-Qiq who has been on hunger strike for at least 21 days to protest his administrative detention.
Al-Qiq, who lives in Ramallah and is originally from Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, was released from prison in May last year after he refused food for a grueling 94 days — also in protest of his administrative detention at the time.
However, al-Qiq was redetained in mid-January after he participated in a protest in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem demanding the release of bodies of slain Palestinians held in Israeli custody.

Al-Qiq’s previous imprisonment by Israel — widely condemned by the United NationsAmnesty International, and other rights groups — and subsequent hunger strike cast a spotlight on Israel’s use of administrative detention, its arbitrary imprisonment of Palestinians, and the concerted targeting of Palestinian journalists.

While Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals, is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed that the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.
Rights groups say that Israel’s administrative detention policy has also been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.
According to Addameer, as of January, 6,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons, 536 of whom were being held under administrative detention.

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