Violence broke out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers on Thursday during a rally in the West Bank [JURIST news archive] near the town of Beitunia. At least 1,000 protesters were marching [JTA report] to Ofer Prison in support of four Palestinian inmates on a hunger strike. As Israeli forces obstructed the march protesters threw stones and burning tires, at which point the Israeli forces utilized rubber-coated bullets and tear gas to break up the crowd. At least 29 Palestinian protesters were injured in the incident. The recent clash is only one of many incidents in the last few days. There was a similar incident [AP report] on Tuesday in which Israeli soldiers used the same measures against protesters. The four inmates have been under administrative detention, which is renewable and permits detention for up to four months without charges. They have been protesting against such detention through hunger strikes. Among them are Tarek Qa'adan and Jafar Azzidine who have been on hunger strike for 78 days and Samer Al-Issawi who has been on partial hunger strike for 200 days. A Jerusalem court on Tuesday rejected Al-Issawi's request to be released on bail.
Israel's administrative detention and the resulting hunger strikes have been criticized by the international community. Last week UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] expressed concern [JURIST report] over reports that three Palestinians being held in Israeli custody are in poor health. She also noted that "[p]ersons detained must be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or be promptly released." In June UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk called on Israel to release two Palestinian detainees [JURIST report] who have been on hunger strike for 82 and 58 days to protest their administrative detention. Earlier in that month Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Israel to release all prisoners [JURIST report] of conscience and administrative detainees or immediately try them under international fair trial standards. In May UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to try or release more than 1,000 prisoners [JURIST report] who had been on hunger strike. Earlier that same month the Israeli Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] against two detainees who had been on hunger strike in their appeal seeking release from detention.