Hunger Strike Enters Second Day as Shot Student Declared Clinically Dead
Thirty-five students entered their second day of an open-ended hunger strike today at Birzeit University. Messages of support from around the world arrived at the university as students continued their solidarity action with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.
During the evening of the first day of the hunger strike, students learned that fellow Birzeit University student Naser I'riqat had been shot in the head by Israeli soldiers during clashes in Abu Dis, Jerusalem. Naser, 20 years old and a third year Commerce student, was attempting to bring his younger brother down from the roof of their home in the center of Abu Dis during clashes between Israeli soldiers and settlers and Palestinian youth. While on the roof, Naser was hit by a rubber coated steel bullet in the head, causing severe damage to his skull and brain.
After emergency surgery and attempts to repair the damage caused by the bullet, Naser I'riqat was pronounced clinically dead at Muqassad hospital in Jerusalem, and continues to breathe only through the assistance of a life support system.
News of the incident deeply shook the students on hunger strike, with two of Naser's close friends participating in the hunger strike. "Naser never liked getting involved in clashes," commented one of the two friends who had previously arranged to meet Naser that same day before the incident. "But these days, you cannot even be safe in your own house anymore?"
Activities were also conducted on campus to commemorate the anniversary of the Intifada, including a procession on campus in memorial of those students whose lives were lost during the Intifada. To date, fourteen Birzeit students have been killed as a direct result of the Israeli occupation, since Birzeit became a university.
The university has declared a strike-day tomorrow to commemorate the anniversary of the Intifada. Hunger-strikers were meeting late tonight to decide what action to take, including the possibility of moving the tent to the centre of Ramallah. Solidarity tents for the mothers of Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike have been erected in major cities throughout the West Bank.