Over the last week the West Bank witnessed a sharp increase in Palestinian violence.
Thousands of young Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces at the outskirts of Palestinian cities and near Ofer prison in the Ramallah area. Last Monday Palestinians also threw two hand grenades at Israeli security forces near the tomb of Rachel at the entrance of Bethlehem.
The goal of this violence is to generate international pressure on Israel to free Palestinian hunger strikers held in Israeli prisons.
The story actually began weeks ago when Palestinian media and the PA started to mobilize the Palestinian street against Israel on this issue.
The Palestinian papers were full of interviews with PA officials who condemned Israel (“The Occupation”) for not releasing Palestinian ‘freedom fighters’ held in Palestinian jails.
From there it was a small step to organize demonstrations in support of the hunger strikers. The situation has now become really explosive and can easily spin out of control.
Yesterday several journalists were injured by rock throwing Palestinian rioters during mass demonstrations outside Ofer prison near Ramallah. Protesters called for a third Intifada against Israel.
Palestinian attempts to use the Israeli courts in order to get the hunger-striking inmates freed, have failed.
Just yesterday the Jerusalem magistrates’ court convicted Samer Isawwi, who has gone without food since August 1. Isawwi was convicted of leaving Jerusalem against the terms of his parole. His sentence will expire on March 6.
Isawwi is a convicted terrorist who was freed as part of the Gilad Shalit swap deal. He was rearrested seven months ago when entering the West Bank in order to take his car to a garage. Isawwi could still be sent back to prison for another 16 years to serve out his original sentence, pending a March 21 hearing on the matter.
His crimes included opening fire with an AK-47 at an Israeli bus, firing at an Israeli car, and manufacturing pipe bombs used in terror attacks.
Under Israeli law, a freed prisoner convicted of another offense resulting in a sentence of three or more months in jail can be ordered to fill out the rest of his term.