The occupation military forces attacked a demonstration on Thursday, April 26 outside Ofer prison near Ramallah, calling for freedom for Palestinian prisoners and solidarity with hunger strikers, in which dozens were overcome by tear gas.

The Democratic Pole at Bir Zeit University called for the protest, which was also attended by family members and supporters of the prisoners, including the family of hunger striker Thaer Halahleh, who has been on hunger strike for 60 days protesting his administrative detention, Wafa Abu Ghoulmeh, the wife of isolated Palestinian hunger striker and member of the hunger strike leadership committee Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh and Abla Sa’adat, the wife of imprisoned Palestinian leader Ahmad Sa’adat.

The occupation soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters directly at demonstrators, wounding four and producing dozens of cases of severe asphyxia.

The Bir Zeit students marched to Ofer prison to coincide with 150 prisoners joining the open-ended hunger strike inside the prison. Abdullah Abu Rahma, a leader of the popular resistance in Bil’in was himself arrested by occupation forces after insisting on his right to remain and protest in solidarity with those behind the bars of the occupation’s prisons.

Ayman Karajeh of Addameer reported that this was another example of the escalation of Israeli occupation attacks against the prisoners since the beginning of the strike, including transferring prisoners from one prison to another, cutting off water and electricity, imposing fines, transferring leaders into isolation or disappearance. Karajeh reported that family and lawyer visits had been barred to many hunger strikers, as well as the withdrawal of salt from prisoners’ cells, and the refusal of the Prison Service to provide health care.

He emphasized that the withdrawal of salt is extremely serious, as salt supports the maintenance of life while on hunger strike, saying that this is contrary to international law and even the Israeli Prison Service’s own regulations in an attempt to force prisoners to break the strike.