JERUSALEM – About 1,000 Palestinian prisoners rioted at an Israeli desert prison early Monday, attacking guards, torching the tents where they are housed and leaving 30 people injured, a prison spokesman said.
The violence broke out overnight at the Ketziot prison in southern Israel when guards began searching prisoners' bunks for contraband, Israel Prisons Authority spokesman Ian Domnitz said. About 2,200 Palestinian prisoners are serving sentences for security offenses at the prison, Domnitz said.
Ketziot is set up like a military camp, and security prisoners are quartered in tents rather than buildings. In Monday's riot, prisoners lit 10 tents on fire and attacked the guards, lightly wounding 15 of them, Domnitz said. Prison officers moved in to quell the riot, injuring 15 prisoners, he said.
Four prisoners were hospitalized, with one critically wounded by a "non-lethal weapon," Domnitz said. He would not specify the type of weapon.
"The weapon was used in response to the endangerment of the lives of prison officers in the cell block," Domnitz said.
Guards put out the fires and restored order an hour after the riot began, he said.
In the West Bank, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, accused Israel of conducting a "repression campaign" against the prisoners. He claimed the prison had used clubs, stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowd and said 250 people were injured.
Israel is holding 11,000 Palestinian prisoners for security offenses ranging from membership in militant organizations to planning and carrying out attacks against Israelis. Their release is a central Palestinian demand.