Thursday, 17 August, 2017

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launch mass hunger strike

Erik Tate | 18 April, 2017, 02:57

More than 1300 Palestinian detainees, held by Israel, initiated the first day of hunger strike, on Monday April 17th, which also marks the Palestinian Prisoners' Day, while hundreds of detainees are preparing to join the "Strike For Dignity".

The strike is led by Marwan Barghouti, a high-profile Fatah-linked prisoner, who is considered by some as a potential successor to President Mahmoud Abbas.

According to figures from the PNA, about 6,500 Palestinians are in 22 Israeli prisons and in detention centres, including 300 minors, 12 lawmakers and 28 journalists.

Meanwhile, Palestinians throughout the West Bank and some in Israel, held rallies and some observed hunger strike in solidarity with the prisoners.

In a letter penned by Barghouti and read by his wife Fadwa on Saturday, Barghouti accused Israel of detaining "thousands of Palestinians every year in a flagrant violation of global treaties and conventions".

Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian prisoners commission, told local media that about 1300 prisoners were protesting over grievances including medical negligence, administrative detention and limited family visits.

Israel denies Palestinian inmates are mistreated and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the Barghouti-led protest was "prompted by internal Palestinian politics and therefore includes unreasonable demands".

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"On this day, we are reminded of the pain of imprisonment, the cruelty of the occupation, and the injustice of the prison cells, as we are reminded of our pride in your steadfastness and sacrifice", Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah said in a recorded video message shared on his Twitter page.

The official number of detainees who are taking part in the strike remains unclear.

The Palestinian observer mission to the United Nations on Monday called for Israel to release thousands of Palestinians it said were "illegally and inhumanely" imprisoned and detained.

Now 500 Palestinians are being held in this way, according to Mr Fares.

Prisoners are demanding more contact with relatives, better access to medical treatment and an end to the Israeli practice of detention without trial. Two other Palestinians were also reportedly injured by rubber bullets fired by Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem, according to Channel 2.

Authorities will set up a field hospital at the Ketziot prison in southern Israel to treat hunger strikers if needed, Librati said.

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