March 19, 2018

Dignity and freedom: Palestinian organizations and figures on the collective hunger strike

21 April 2017, 02:37 | Taylor George

This year, senior Fatah MP Marwan Al-Barghouti - who is serving multiple life sentences in Israel - called for a mass hunger strike on 17 April in protest at the conditions of around 7,000 Palestinian prisoners inside 22 Israeli prisons. Some 500 are held under administrative detention, which allows for imprisonment without charges or trial.

A lot of them are jailed for participating in the struggle against the Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza, lands that Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East War and where the Palestinians wish to establish their future state.

The media committee said the strikers aim at restoring many of their rights that were taken away by the occupation prisons administration, which they had achieved through many past strikes.

Librati said that some 1,100 detainees in several prisons had announced they were going on hunger strike.

Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said he believes the strike is politically motivated and that the prisoners have no legitimate complaints.

Israeli authorities have ruled out negotiating with the striking Palestinian prisoners.

Barghouti's op-ed, timed with the announcement of a Palestinian prisoner hunger strike, accused Israel of "judicial apartheid" and the abuse of Palestinians behind bars.

"We will not surrender to it", he wrote.

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He said Israel has established field hospitals outside the prisons to respond to any immediate medical needs.

The open-ended strike has been launched to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day amid calls by detainees for the resumption of prison visits, better medical care and better treatment of female prisoners.

An essay by Barghouti was smuggled out of his Israeli prison and printed as an op-ed in The New York Times.

More than 300 Palestinians have been in prison since before Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Oslo accords in 1993.

Erdan vowed that Israeli authorities would not negotiate with the prisoners and said Barghouti had been moved to another prison and placed in solitary confinement.

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

The newspaper was slammed by Israeli leaders and U.S. Jewish groups for its failure to mention Barghouti's terrorist activities and conviction for murder. Over the years, polls have indicated that Barghouti is the most popular choice among Palestinians to succeed current PA head Mahmoud Abbas.

Strikers have also said they want access to more television channels and compassionate release for disabled prisoners or those sufferings from chronic illnesses.

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