Last updated: 8 March, 2012

Palestinian rallies mark Women’s Day

Palestinian women rallied across Gaza and the West Bank on International Women’s Day on Thursday, calling for the release of a female prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli jail.

In Gaza City, around 1,000 women attended a demonstration that marched to the Red Cross headquarters to call for the release of Hanaa al-Shalabi, who has been on hunger strike for 22 days.

“Yes to the immediate release of Hanaa Shalabi!” they chanted, holding pictures of the 30-year-old, who has been ordered jailed for four months without charge by an Israeli military court.

Shalabi’s incarceration was also the focus of several other rallies, one at Qalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah and another outside the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

At Qalandia, hundreds of women arrived by bus from across the West Bank for a rally organised by women’s groups and local unions.

They carried posters of Shalabi, who has accused Israeli forces of mistreating her and imprisoning her without evidence.

Israeli troops used water cannons against the protesters and also utilised the “scream truck,” a military vehicle that emits a high-pitched noise intended to disperse demonstrations.

Towards the end of the demonstration, a handful of youths began throwing stones at Israeli forces, who responded by firing tear gas.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, around 100 women waving Palestinian flags gathered near Damascus Gate alongside a handful of men.

The Palestinian Authority has for several years marked Women’s Day as a national holiday, with schools and government offices closing for the day.