JERUSALEM — Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers on Friday at several demonstrations in the West Bank held to support a prisoner observing an intermittent hunger strike to protest his incarceration.
The Israeli military said about 500 Palestinians threw rocks and rolled burning tires at soldiers who responded with tear gas during the main rally outside Ofer prison in the West Bank. The protesters called for the release of Samer Issawi, who has been on an on-again, off-again hunger strike for several months as he serves time for alleged terror activity.
Protests spread to several other West Bank flashpoints which turned violent as well. Palestinian medics said they treated dozens of people for tear gas inhalation and minor wounds sustained from rubber bullets. Two Israeli soldiers were lightly injured, the military said.
The prisoner issue is an emotional one for Palestinians. Palestinians generally view them as heroes, regardless of the reason for their imprisonment.
Issawi, 35, was initially released in 2011 in a prisoner exchange. Israeli Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said he was arrested after he violated the terms of his release. She said he had been arrested for ‘‘terror activity’’ and sentenced to 26 years, but was released in the 2011 prisoner swap after serving only six years.