Palestinian residents in Hebron protesting the Ketziot prison attack were subject to an all-day onslaught of rubber bullets, tear gas and sound grenades by the Israeli soldiers.
The protest took the form of a strike, organised by the Islamic National Forces in response to the killing of one Palestinian prisoner and the injuring of up to 250, by Israeli prison guards at the Ketziot prison, three days ago.
Israeli soldiers started firing into the crowds in response to Palestinian children throwing rocks at the bulletproof checkpoint leading into the Tel Rumeida settlement – the checkpoint that controls movement of Palestinians from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas into Israeli-controlled areas, areas of residence for both Palestinians and illegal Israeli settlements.
The checkpoint is a daily frustration for the people of Hebron, who are often delayed for long periods or denied entry altogether. It also serves as a potent symbol of the illegal annexation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlements in Hebron, contravening the 4th Geneva convention.
Soldiers fired from rooftops – shooting rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs into the crowded marketplace, wounding a 15 year old boy in the neck. Other children were also hit with rubber bullets, and an elderly man was hospitalised after being struck in the chest. Approximately 15 people were hospitalised, with more people suffering the effects of tear gas.
The checkpoint remained closed throughout the day – stranding school children and residents.
Update, the next day
In the backlash of yesterdays clashes between Hebron youth and Israeli soldiers, the latter responded to stone throwing with even heavier agression, replacing rubber bullets with live ammunition.
Yesterday, when the citizens of Hebron demonstrated for better treatment of prisoners, children from the age of seven were shot at with rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs, some which were in need of medical treatment.
Today in the afternoon, soldiers stormed into the Palestinian run market place, firing live ammunition down the streets.
The main checkpoint separating the areas under Palestinian administration and Israeli occupied territory closed for several hours, hindering people from reaching their homes.
The checkpoint serves as a base for soldiers firing into groups of people, thus being the main target of young Palestinians frustration.
Conditions of Ketziot Prison
According to a reliable source associated with Ketziot Prison, 700 out of 2500 prisoners are solely held under administrative detention, which means they do not have a determined time sentence. The prison is surrounded by eight metres of concrete and fence wall with additional barbwire fences separating each section. The prison appears more like a camp, hidden away in the Negev Desert and subjecting the inmates to live in plastic tents.
It is reported that the prisoners live under heavy tension. They are guarded 24 hours a day by surveillance towers and if the prison guards suspect any movement, they’re ready to shoot.
The prisoners are denied simple utilities, such as cleaning supplies which they are forced to buy on their own with money which must be deposited into Israeli banks. The only people allowed to send money are family members, many of them not able to go to Jerusalem in order to visit an Israeli bank. Along with poor conditions, they are denied medical treatments and given aspirin to cure anything, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Even after the raid by the Metzada (Israel Prison Service) some of the injured detainees were denied medical treatment for injuries caused by rubber bullets and tear gas. International third parties such as the Red Cross have been denied intervention.