Israeli activists hold jail barbecue to taunt Palestinian hunger strikers

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Activists hold food party outside Ofer military prison, north of Jerusalem, where prisoners have joined a hunger strike in protest at conditions

Israeli activists outside Ofer military prison, north of Jerusalem, in the occupied West Bank (AFP)
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Monday 24 April 2017 12:32 UTC
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A group of Israeli hardliners taunted Palestinian detainees on hunger strike by barbecuing outside a prison, saying they hoped the smell would make their abstention harder.

Some 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on Monday joined a hunger strike against conditions.

Several dozen Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli forces on Thursday outside Israel's Ofer prison north of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank.

On the opposite side of a checkpoint, about a dozen Israelis grilled chicken and meat, with a number of Israeli soldiers joining them to eat.

"At this moment [the hunger strikers] will smell the food's scent and maybe later in the evening they will see it on television," event organiser Ofer Sofer told AFP in front of two barbecue pits.

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"It is a bunch of terrorists that are threatening us with a hunger strike. We are happy that they are on strike. Let them have this strike as long as they want."

The hunger strike has been led by prominent prisoner and popular Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences over his role in the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Security forces fired tear gas, sound grenades and rubber bullets at the crowd of Palestinians who threw stones and protested in support of the prisoners.

It was not immediately clear if anyone was injured in the clashes.

Palestinian Prisoners Club head Qadura Fares told AFP at the protest that Israel would allow all the strikers, including Barghouti, access to lawyers, in a reversal of its previous position.

Access to lawyers had been prevented following the start of the strike, Palestinian officials said, with Barghouti moved to solitary confinement.

The Israel Prisons Service said it was acting under its rules, without elaborating further.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.