Friday, October 26, 2007

Palestinian inmate dies of wounds

Extracted from BBC, Tuesday, 23 October 2007

A Palestinian prisoner has died of wounds he suffered in a riot at a jail in southern Israel.

Israeli prison officials said the man had been hit by what they called non-lethal objects fired by guards during Monday's riot.

They did not disclose the precise devices used on security grounds.

Palestinians say the guards provoked the riot by searching sleeping quarters at night, and then used unacceptably violent methods to regain control.

The Israeli authorities described the search as routine and said guards had used the correct response in view of the danger to their lives.

Fifteen Palestinians and 15 guards were hurt in Monday's riot, Israeli officials said.

More than 2,000 Palestinians are held in Ketziot Prison, in the Negev desert in southern Israel.

There are more than 10,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, many being held without ever having faced trial, the BBC's correspondent in Ramallah, Aleem Maqbool, says. While some have been charged with security offences, most here consider them all to be political prisoners and their release is a key Palestinian demand in the negotiations aimed at ending the conflict, he adds.

Angry demonstrations
Prison authorities identified the man dead inmate only as a 30-year-old male serving a two-year sentence.

Ashraf Ajrami, the Palestinian Authority's minister for prisoner affairs, identified him as Mohammad al-Ashkar, a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group.

Hundreds of Palestinians have come out in protest in the West Bank and Gaza against Ashkar's death and calling for Palestinian prisoners to be released.

At one point early on Monday, some of the prison was on fire as inmates battled with their guards.

Palestinian officials say they believe the number of wounded is far higher and that 10 of the injured prisoners needed hospital treatment.

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