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Arab League calls for UN probe into rights violations at Israeli jails

Protesters hold pictures of jailed Palestinian prisoners during a rally in support of the hunger-striking inmates in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 3, 2017. (Photo by AP)

The Arab League has urged the UN to launch a probe into the violation of Palestinian prisoners’ rights in Israeli jails as thousands of inmates are on an open-ended hunger strike.

In a resolution approved on Thursday, the 22-member pan-Arab body said it "invites the United Nations and its relevant specialized agencies to send an international commission of inquiry to Israeli prisons.”

It demanded that the commission of inquiry “view the violations being committed against the prisoners of war."

The resolution further called on "relevant international institutions and bodies" to "intervene immediately and urgently to compel” Israel to respect international humanitarian law.

It also "condemned the Israeli occupation authorities in their ongoing detention of thousands of Palestinian prisoners... including children, women, and political leaders and elected representatives."

Arab League representatives and officials gathered in solidarity with the Palestinian hunger strikers outside the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. 

Arab League representatives and officials gather in solidarity with the Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners outside the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

The mass hunger strike, dubbed the Freedom and Dignity Strike, began on April 17. It is led by a jailed leader of the Fatah Movement, Marwan Barghouti.

The strike initially began with 1,500 prisoners, but now some 2,000 people are believed to be refusing food to denounce the inhumane treatment of the Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails, 536 of them arbitrarily, according to figures provided by the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer in January.

Palestinian inmates complain that they have been subjected to assault and torture at Israeli prisons.

They have continuously resorted to hunger strikes in an attempt to voice their anger at the so-called administrative detention, which is a form of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months.

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