BETHLEHEM, � Several Palestinians suffocated on Friday in clashes that erupted when Israeli forces violently suppressed a peaceful Bethlehem rally in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, said local sources.
The rally, which kicked off in al-Azza refugee camp to the north of Bethlehem, where Palestinians set up a solidarity tent in support of Palestinian hunger striking prisoners, was quelled by the Israeli army as it reached the northern entrance of Bethlehem city.
Israeli soldiers used tear gas canisters against the protesters to disperse them, leading to clashes.
Several suffocation cases were reported.
Palestinian prisoners embarked on a mass hunger strike on Monday to protest the difficult humanitarian conditions in Israeli jails.
The prisoners are demanding to be moved to prisons in the occupied territories as per the Fourth Geneva Convention, which would make it easier for their families to visit them, as well as lifting restrictions on family visits and better treatment at military checkpoints.
Other demands include: An improvement of access to medical care; increasing visit duration from 45 to 90 minutes; families of women prisoners meet without glass barriers to allow mothers to hold their children; an improvement in detention conditions including easing restrictions on the entry of books, clothing, food and other gifts from family members; restoring some educational facilities; and installing phones to enable prisoners to communicate with their families.
The total number of political prisoners currently incarcerated in Israeli jails has reached 6500 prisoners, including 500 administrative detainees; 300 children; and 61 females.
Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency