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Hundreds of Palestinian inmates to go on open hunger strike

In this file photo, Palestinian prisoners walk at the yard of the Israeli prison of Megiddo. (Photo by AFP)

A large number of Palestinian prisoners across the political spectrum have pledged to go on a hunger strike in solidarity with a top Palestinian Fatah Movement’s jailed leader who will launch a mass open-ended hunger strike along with hundreds of other jailed members of the movement later this month.

The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement on Saturday that some 70 inmates from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine who are held at Gilboa Prison in northern Israel would join the mass hunger strike by 430 Fatah prisoners on April 17. 

The major strike action is led by Marwan Barghouti.

In a separate statement released later in the day, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said all 120 Palestinian inmates held at Hadarim prison, regardless of their political affiliation, had also vowed to join the mass hunger strike.

On March 24, Fatah announced in a statement that Barghouti, from the prison, had stressed the necessity of preserving unity while conducting the hunger strike and making full commitment to it, instead of individually negotiating with the Israel Prison Service (IPS).

He also encouraged all Palestinian inmates to “be aware of all rumors and lies that IPS will use during the hunger strike to weaken the prisoners’ will and determination”, Fatah further quoted Barghouti as saying in the statement.

The file photo shows top Palestinian Fatah Movement’s leader, Marwan Barghouti (C).

The hunger strike, according to Fatah statement, is due to be launched to achieve a number of demands, including an end to the bans and cuts to family visits, proper medical attention, an end to intentional medical neglect, treatment of female Palestinian inmates, and putting an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention. 

The much criticized administrative detention is a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge. Back in 2012, a similar hunger strike, involving some 2,000 Palestinian inmates, ended after an agreement was reached with Israeli authorities to terminate the policy of internment without trial or charge.

However, nearly 700 prisoners are currently held under the widely condemned practice of administrative detention. Some of the inmates have been held in prison under the policy for up to 11 years.

On Thursday, Fatah, in a statement, called on the Palestinian public and activists around the globe to support its cause in the hunger strike, which is aimed at ending the “brutal and inhumane” treatment of Palestinian inmates by Israeli authorities.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, some 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of January this year, including 53 women and 300 children.

The Palestinian inmates regularly hold hunger strikes in protest against the administrative detention policy and their harsh prison conditions.

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