Israeli troops, Palestinians clash over prisoner

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Several dozen Palestinians demanding the release of a hunger-striking detainee clashed with Israeli troops Thursday, part of growing protests against the practice of holding Palestinians without formal charges.

Soldiers fired tear gas and aimed a water cannon at about 50 women marching in support of Hana Shalabi, a 30-year-old West Bank woman who has gone without food for 22 days. The stream of water knocked down one of the women, while Palestinian teens threw rocks at the soldiers from behind the women’s march.

In Gaza, about 500 women marched for Shalabi, marking International Women’s Day.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier in the neck during an arrest raid in the town of Yatta, seriously wounding him, the Israeli military said. The soldier opened fire, wounding the assailant and killing another man the military described as the attacker’s accomplice.

Palestinian medics identified the dead man as Zakariya Abu Eram. Palestinian police said he was 17. A witness in Yatta, Nasser Nawaja, said the teen was about 40 yards (meters) away and not involved in the attack when he was killed.

The man arrested in Yatta after stabbing the soldier was released four months ago, along with more than 1,000 other Palestinian prisoners, in a swap for an Israeli soldier held for more than five years by the Islamic militant Hamas in Gaza.

Shalabi, the hunger striker, was released in the same swap and was arrested Feb. 16.

Shalabi is being held without formal charges in what Israel calls administrative detention. Previously, she had been held for two years without formal charges, according to Palestinian human rights activists. Detention orders are usually issued for six months and are frequently renewed.

Israel has defended administrative detentions as a necessary tool to stop militant activity. It says the measure is needed to protect its network of Palestinian informers.

Rights activists say international law allows this practice only in exceptional cases. The Israeli rights group B’Tselem says Israel’s use of administrative detention “blatantly violates these restrictions.” In January, 309 Palestinians were being held in administrative detention, 90 more than a year earlier, B’Tselem said.

Last month, another administrative detainee, Khader Adnan, ended a 66-day hunger strike after reaching a deal with the Israeli authorities to free him in April.

( / 08.03.2012)

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