Monday, 29 May, 2017

Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails launch mass hunger strike

Over 6000 Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons: NGOs Hundreds of Palestinians to go on hunger strike
Saul Franklin | 18 April, 2017, 02:48

Hundreds of Palestinians who are now being held in Israeli prisons will go on an open-ended hunger strike, beginning Monday 17 April, to mark Palestinian Prisoner's Day.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are being held in Israeli prisons, including 57 women and around 300 children, according to NGO the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

The Israel Prison Service and Israeli security establishment are preparing for the hunger strike that is expected to begin this evening or tomorrow morning.

Israel Prison Service, which "has past experience in dealing with hunger strikes and has the means to contain them", was transferring striking prisoners to separate cell blocks, she said in a statement.

"There will be an update later".

Mr Barghouti was sentenced to five life terms in 2004 for organising an attack on a Tel Aviv restaurant.

Peace talks on the creation of a Palestinian state between Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas broke down in 2014.

Top Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi called on the worldwide community to bring an end to the "inhumane" treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

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About 6,500 Palestinians are now detained by Israel on a wide range of offenses and alleged crimes.

In an op-ed published in The New York Times, Barghouti wrote that Israeli prisons have become the "cradle of a lasting movement for Palestinian self-determination".

Many Palestinians see Barghouti's move as chiefly an internal power play in an attempt to send a message specifically to the Fatah leadership and to Abbas, who excluded Barghouti's loyalists from a recent Central Committee meeting and did not give Barghouti the anticipated position of deputy head of the PA.

For Palestinians, the prisons have become a stark symbol of Israel's occupation.

Prisoners' demands include installation of a public telephone in all prisons to allow communication with relatives, resuming bi-monthly family visits, allowing second-degree relatives to visit, increasing duration of the visits and allowing prisoners to take photographs with their families.

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

In the NYT piece, Barghouti accused Israel of conducting "mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners", and said that a hunger strike is "the most peaceful form of resistance available" against these abuses. He condemned what he called Israel's intransigence in the face of "fair" prisoner demands.

Arab-Israeli lawmaker Dr. Yousef Jabareen (of the Arab Joint List party) also called on the government to meet the demands.

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