Protest Near Prison Housing Palestinian Inmates
Tensions escalate over delayed prisoner release and stalled peace talks
A demonstration near Ofer Prison in the West Bank village of Beitunia today was dispersed by Israeli forces, leaving several Palestinian protestors injured. The Israeli prison, which according to the Times of Israel houses up to 800 Palestinian prisoners at a time, is the site of a previous prisoner release—a particularly acute issue right now, during the latest impasse in peace talks.
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier today in Morocco, it’s time for a “reality check” on the negotiations, in which both sides have been “unhelpful.” This latest protest is a sign of increasing impatience not only at the diplomatic level—Kerry’s frustration was fueled by Israel’s recent refusal to release more Palestinian prisoners, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ subsequent declaration that he would be applying for Palestinian membership in 15 international bodies—but simmering anger on the ground as well.
JTA reports as many as 13 injuries among the demonstrators, who local news reports said “hurled stones and burning tires toward Israelis guarding the facility.” Photographs show protestors throwing tear gas canisters back at the Israeli soldiers who fired them.
Similarly motivated demonstrations reportedly also took place in Hebron and near Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
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