Palestinians hold photographs of prisoners jailed in Israel, during a rally to mark the annual prisoners' day (Photo: AP)
Massive marches and rallies filled the streets of Gaza on Wednesday to mark "Prisoners' Day," an annual commemoration of Palestinian prisoners.
Families of prisoners and parties across the political spectrum gathered in huge numbers.
Palestinians urged armed resistance factions to capture Israeli soldiers to push for prisoner-swap deals, promoting the release of prisoners from occupation jails.
The main march began at Saraya Square in Gaza and moved to the Red Cross headquarters to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. They raised posters in support of hunger striker and prisoner, Samer Issawi, who has been on a hunger strike for nine months. One read "Issawi is a symbol of our dignity."
Hamas leader, Mosheir Al-Masry, noted that Issawi's case unites all factions of the Palestinian people. "The prisoners' strike and perseverance in fighting the occupation inside prison walls unites everyone as they try to break these prisoners' chains and attempt to set them free," he said.
Al-Masry added that Palestinians must adopt this case as a "national one."
The Hamas leader also encouraged the repetition of the Shalit prisoner exchange that enabled the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, males and females.
Amal Hamad, a Palestinian member of Fatah’s central committee from Gaza, stressed that the Palestinian prisoners' issue is a matter of justice, calling it a 'humanitarian issue'. She called on the international community to take tougher measures towards preventing the continuation of Israeli violations against Palestinian prisoners.
"Prisoners' Day" marks the release of Mahmoud Bakr Hegazy, the first Palestinian prisoner, on 17 April 1974 in an exchange deal with Israel.