Hunger Strike Partially Suspended as Students Protest Death of Student

Birzeit university students took a decision yesterday to partially suspend their hunger strike following the announcement of the death of Birzeit University student Naser I'riqat. I'riqat had been shot in the head by Israeli soldiers during a protest in Abu Dis, Jerusalem while he was attempting to bring his younger brother down from the roof of their home. While on the roof, he was hit by a rubber coated steel bullet in the head, causing severe damage to his skull and brain.

On Thursday, it was announced that Naser's heart had stopped and he was declared officially dead. Following a meeting of all the political factions involved in the hunger strike, it was decided that some students would end the hunger strike in order to observe the traditional three day mourning period, and prepare for a funeral procession in the middle of Ramallah in Naser's memory. A number of students remain on hunger strike and a meeting will be held on Monday 14th of December to determine future plans.

The hunger strike had started on Monday in solidarity with over-2000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. One of the student leaders told Birzeit News, "With the announcement of Naser's death, and also the killing of three more Palestinians over the last 3 days, we felt that we must stand beside our people. Hundreds of messages have come to us over the last few days and we stress that some students remain on strike. We will meet on Monday to discuss how to proceed with the strike."

On Thursday, a large banner was placed on a university building commemorating Palestinians from all political factions who had been killed over the last few years. Classes were cancelled as hundreds of students gathered in front of the tents of the hunger strikers to hear speeches by student leaders in Naser's memory.

Following the rally on campus, bus loads of students went to Ramallah to march in memory of Naser. Over one thousand people joined the procession as it weaved its way through the center of Ramallah. The march ended in a protest in the pouring rain at the outskirts of Ramallah where the Israeli army fired on participants with rubber coated metal bullets, live ammunition and tear gas. Several students were injured, none seriously.