Hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel launch hunger strike

Miranda GreerApr 18, 2017

Marking Palestinian Prisoners' Day, the organisation said that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails "suffer violations classified as war crimes that need an International Criminal Court ruling".

More than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners are said to be refusing food to demand better conditions, including an end to the practice of detentions without trial, activists say.

President Mahmoud Abbas Monday called on the worldwide community to save the life of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who started an open-ended hunger strike.

The strike was called in connection with Palestinian Prisoners Day, which is observed annually. "After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike".

People hold banners during a rally in support of Palestinian prisoners in the West bank City of Bethlehem, Monday, April 17, 2017. Barghouti is serving multiple life sentences for murder for his role in the deadly uprising of the second Palestinian intifada in the early 2000s.

A recent report from UK-based rights group Amnesty International also condemned Israel's policy of holding Palestinian prisoners inside Israel, describing it as "unlawful and cruel".

"Decades of experience have proved that Israel's inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong".

"In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it". The Palestinian Prisoners Club put the number at 1,500.

Israel Prisons Service officials are also reportedly investigating whether the article was smuggled out of prison by Barghouti's lawyers or his wife, the Hebrew-language Ynet news site reported. "It is unlawful and cruel and the consequences for the imprisoned person and their loved ones, who are often deprived from seeing them for months, and at times for years on end, can be devastating".

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, in a statement carried by official news agency WAFA, "called on the worldwide community to save the life of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails". The Hebrew-language Ynet news website reported that the Prison Service launched an investigation to find out how Barghouti "smuggled" the article outside the jail.

He added the action could have been avoided had Israel entered into discussions with prisoners and not ignored the situation.

Palestinians consider those held in Israeli jails as national heroes.

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.

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