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Palestinian Prisoners Launch Mass Hunger Strike

Palestinian Prisoners Launch Mass Hunger StrikePalestinian Prisoners Launch Mass Hunger Strike

Some 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel launched a mass hunger strike on Monday to press for basic rights and shed light on the difficult humanitarian conditions inside Israeli prisons.

The open-ended hunger strike, one of the largest in recent years, coincides with Palestinian Prisoners Day, annually commemorated on April 17.

Led by jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, the strike will see Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum participate from within six prisons inside Israel, Aljazeera reported.

“They have central demands and will continue to fast until they achieve them. The prisoners see hunger striking as the only door they can knock on to attain their rights,” Amina al-Taweel, spokesperson for the Hebron-based Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies, told Aljazeera.

“Even though it is one of the most dangerous and difficult decisions, they are only making this choice because conditions [inside the prisons] have reached a new low,” said al-Taweel. There are currently 6,500 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel, including more than 500 administrative detainees, according to Beit ul-Muqaddas-based prisoner rights group Addameer.

Prisoners’ demands include installation of a public telephone in all prisons to allow communication with relatives and resumption of bimonthly family visits.

Many prisoners suffer from medical negligence in jails. Prisoners must pay for their own medical treatment and are not provided with the adequate healthcare. Sick prisoners have also reported being denied water.

Since 1967, more than 50 Palestinian prisoners have died due to medical negligence inside Israeli jails, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

Additionally, prisoners are demanding better treatment when transferred between prisons or between courts and prisons. Detainees are transported in a vehicle with blacked-out windows, known as the Bosta.

The vehicle is divided into tight metal cells, whereby the prisoner is chained from their arms and legs to a chair in a confined space, for long periods of time in the dark.

Administrative detainees are arrested on “secret evidence”, unaware of the accusations against them and are not allowed to defend themselves in court. Their detention periods can be indefinitely renewed.

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