BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Palestinians blocked roads and held marches across the West Bank on Monday to protest the fate of thousands of their countrymen held in Israeli jails and to demand the release of four detainees on hunger strike.
The hunger strikers include Samer Issawi, 35, whose health has severely deteriorated after staging an on-again, off-again strike for more than 200 days. The men were all in stable condition, said a spokeswoman for Israel’s prison authority, Sivan Weizman.
Israel is holding about 4,500 Palestinians for charges ranging from throwing stones to undertaking deadly militant attacks. Their incarceration is a sensitive issue for Palestinians, who see them as heroes of their struggle for liberation from the Jewish state.
Hundreds of men and women in the southern town of Hebron brandished flags of different Palestinian factions. Other demonstrators held up photographs of their loved ones behind bars.
Near Bethlehem, Israeli forces chased protesters who blocked a major West Bank road. Soldiers hurled tear gas and stun grenades between jammed cars as Palestinians blocked traffic.
There were no reports of injuries.