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Israeli prison forces search Palestinians in Negev prison at gunpoint

July 3, 2017 11:33 A.M. (Updated: July 4, 2017 2:32 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Forces from the Israel Prison Service's takeover unit stormed section 13 of Ktziot prison in the southern Negev region and evacuated scores of Palestinian prisoners at gunpoint Monday morning, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Qaraqe said.

Qaraqe told Ma'an via telephone that large numbers of "Israeli oppression units" stormed the section and conducted a "provocative and barbaric search" before evacuating approximately 100 Palestinian prisoners from the prison block.

He said he received the information from sources inside the prison, and that "a state of unrest prevailed" as of Monday morning, without giving more details.

The raid came after unconfirmed reports Sunday evening in local Palestinian media claimed that 30 Hamas-affiliated prisoners in Ktziot declared an open-ended hunger strike in protest of the arbitrary transfer of jailed Hamas leader Muntasir Shadid from Ktziot to Megiddo prison, which is located more than 200 kilometers away in northern Israel.

However, in response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) denied that there were any prisoners on hunger strike in the prison, and said, "The raid you asked about was a routine search that IPS operates occasionally for management reasons. No prisoners were at gunpoint."

Israeli authorities currently hold 6,200 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, including 490 without charge or trial. The group has reported that 40 percent of the Palestinian male population has at some point been detained by Israeli forces.

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