Update: The UN has released a statement in response to the demonstration. It can be found here. Details can be found below.
Demonstrators in Ramallah surrounded a United Nations building in Ramallah to demand attention to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
At 7:30 AM, about 25 youth activists reportedly blocked access into and out of the UN Ramallah Common Premises building. Later reports indicate upwards of 40 demonstrators involved in this morning’s action. A few minutes into the action, the hashtag #UNclosed began to trend worldwide on Twitter.
Palestinian Authority police officers arrived at the scene at about 7:50 AM. According to Ahmad Nimer, one of the demonstrators, the police officers outnumbered the activists and threatened to use force to move the demonstrators from the scene. The police have not yet made any moves.
The action transitioned into full-fledged sit-in outside of the UN building’s gates and doors. Eyewitness accounts say that UN employees were having difficulty getting inside the building but some are said to have found passage through doors that were not blocked.
Khader Adnan, who was recently released after going on a 66-day hunger strike, telephoned the demonstrators to express his support and to further demand an end to Israel’s illegal detention of Palestinians without charge.
An announcement from the upper management informed UN staff members that they will not be working from within the building today. It is unclear whether staff members were given the day off or if they were instructed to work from home. Meanwhile, demonstrators announced plans to remain at the UN building until 5:00 PM. Linah Alsaafin explains more about the purpose of the demonstration here:
The attendance increased three hours into the demonstration as community members began to join in on the sit-in. Many of these individuals are reported to be relatives of imprisoned Palestinians.
The protesters delivered a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
Activists in Amman, Jordan, also took part in a solidarity action at a local UN building, according to Ola Al-Tamimi.
At about 5:27 PM, the UN official Twitter account tweeted the following message:
The UN released an official statement just hours after the demonstration, stressing “the importance of averting any further deterioration in the condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody who are on hunger strike”. The full text can be found here.
Currently, between 2000 and 2500 Palestinian prisoners are on an open-ended hunger strike that has just entered into its 23nd day. Two individuals, Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab, have both entered day 72 of their hunger strikes.
The prisoners and their supporters have released a list of demands which can be found here: ‘A Situation Room on the Issue of the Mass Hunger Strike‘.
Here are some images from the scene: