RAMALLAH - Some 3,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails on Wednesday refused breakfast as part of a one-day hunger strike to mark Prisoners’ Day, an Israeli prison official said.

Palestinians across the territories are attending marches and rallies as a show of solidarity with prisoners from the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza held in Israeli facilities, whose numbers according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem reach 4,713.

In the West Bank, around 600 relatives of prisoners gathered for a sit-in in the rain at Arafat Square in central Ramallah after which some of them were planning to march towards the nearby military prison at Ofer. Another rally was being held in the northern city of Nablus. Meanwhile in Gaza, hundreds of people were taking part in a march from central Gaza City to the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, an AFP correspondent said.

Another sit-in was to take place at Damascus Gate in east Jerusalem at 1400 GMT, officials said. Events to mark Prisoners’ Day began on Tuesday when youngsters in Gaza City released thousands of balloons into the air, each bearing the name of a prisoner, while there were also solidarity gatherings in Rafah in the south.

During the evening, demonstrators gathered in a village near the southern city of Hebron lit a “freedom torch” in front of the home of Arafat Jaradat, a prisoner who died in Israeli custody last month after several days of interrogation, sparking Palestinian allegations of torture.

“It was a symbolic event to deliver a clear message, firstly to the Israeli side and secondly to the international community, that it is intolerable for us to continue receiving our prisoners as corpses,” Amjad al-Najjar, head of the Hebron branch of the Prisoners’ Club, told Voice of Palestine radio.

Also during the evening, there were candle-lighting ceremonies in Gaza City as well as in Hebron, AFP correspondents said.

Of the Palestinians currently detained, some 169 are being held under administrative detention orders, whereby they are held without charge for renewable six-month periods, according to the B’Tselem human rights group.

Meanwhile, the military said it was still investigating whether two rockets that exploded in the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat on Wednesday had been fired from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

“We are still investigating to see if they were delivered from Egyptian territories but nothing is confirmed yet,” a senior military official told AFP.

The presidency stressed that Egypt rejects any attack against any country.

“Egypt on principle rejects any attack against any country or threatening the security” of any country, presidency spokesman Omar Amer told reporters.

He asked for patience “until the picture is clearer”, reiterating that “Egypt is a country that calls for peace.”

The Israeli army and police said the two rockets had been fired from Sinai and struck open areas in Eilat, causing no casualties.

Eilat lies on the northernmost point of the Gulf of Aqaba, a narrow stretch of water bordered on one side by the Sinai and the other by Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Last April, a rocket fired by militants from Sinai hit Eilat but caused no casualties, with police finding another unexploded rocket near the city several days later.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is to visit Turkey at the weekend for talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Palestinian official said on Wednesday.

He will also meet President Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during the Saturday-Sunday trip, the official told AFP.

On Sunday, Erdogan announced his intention to visit the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip next month, after a trip to the United States.

Abbas’s West Bank-based nationalist Fatah movement, a long-time rival to the Hamas, has criticised Erdogan’s Gaza trip as fostering intra-Palestinian divisions.

“Any official, Arab, Muslim or foreign, who visits Gaza without reference to the legitimate Palestinian leadership is blessing and consolidating the division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed told the official Voice of Palestine radio on Monday.

Abbas must address this issue with Erdogan, he said.

Erdogan, a staunch advocate of the Palestinian cause, had previously said he would visit Gaza in April “to help the process” of lifting an Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave.

That announcement came a day after a breakthrough apology on March 22 from Israel for the deaths of nine Turks during a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which had wrecked ties between the former allies.

Aides pointed to scheduling conflicts for the scrapping of the April visit, but Israeli and Turkish media speculated that US Secretary of State John Kerry had warned Ankara over the trip’s “potentially adverse effects” on the new thaw in bilateral ties facilitated by Washington.

Erdogan plans to visit Washington on May 16.

For full restoration and re-appointment of its ambassador in Israel, Ankara insists that the Jewish state pay compensation for the raid victims and lift its restrictions on Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has requested $220.3 million in 2014 to bolster Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system despite broader cuts to US military spending, according to budget documents.

The US Missile Defense Agency also is asking for an additional $175.9 million in fiscal year 2015 for Israel’s homegrown missile defense network, according to the agency’s budget proposal posted online.

The Pentagon already invested $204 million on the system in 2011 and $70 million in 2012.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel promised in talks in March with his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak, who has since retired, that Washington would continue to fund anti-missile weaponry, including Iron Dome, despite fiscal pressures.

The budget details emerged before Hagel’s planned visit to Israel next week, his first as defense secretary.

The Republican majority in the House of Representatives in May 2012 called for additional funding of roughly $680 million for the Iron Dome program.

US military assistance to Israel comes to about three billion dollars a year to ensure the country’s “qualitative military edge” in the region, as mandated by Congress.

For its part, Israel has spent a billion dollars on the development and production of Iron Dome batteries.

Israeli officials say the Iron Dome program proved a success in battle last year.

In eight days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in November, the Israeli military said it brought down 421 of 1,354 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

Of those which landed, 58 hit urban areas while the rest fell in open fields, causing no damage.