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Israel concerned about impact of hunger strike: Analyst

Palestinian protesters throws stones toward Israeli security forces during clashes following a protest in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

As a Palestinian hunger strike at Israeli jails gains more momentum in its fourth week, solidarity with the movement has increased among the Palestinian people. On Wednesday, dozens of people staged a sit-in in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds to urge the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to intervene to save the Palestinian prisoners’ lives. To discuss the issue, Press TV has interviewed Hafsa Kara-Mustapha, a journalist and Middle East analyst in London, and Michael Lane, the president of the American Institute for Foreign Policy in Washington.

Kara-Mustapha said that the Israeli regime has resorted to imposing pressure on Palestinians in order to stop the hunger strike movement because the Israelis are aware that the situation could wind up triggering a new intifada.

“They (the Israelis) see the potency in this movement, which could not only spread across the prisons but actually trigger another intifada,” the journalist said on Thursday night.

The Palestinians are hoping to trigger a wider movement, so, “the Israelis are increasing the punitive measures against not only the hunger strikers but the Palestinian population in general,” she added.

According to the analyst, the Israelis are trying to “break the moral” of the hunger strikers by publishing fake images of Marwan Barghouti — a Palestinian figure who is leading the hunger strike inside the prisons — eating in his prison cell.

She said the Palestinian prisoners have not decided to go on hunger strike in order to raise the profile of Barghouti but “because their living conditions are very very bad.”

Palestinian protesters wave their national flags and portraits of prominent prisoner Marwan Barghouti, during a demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, in front of the Israeli-run Ofer prison, in the West Bank village of Betunia, April 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Kara-Mustafa said the majority of the detainees were arrested and being held without charges, which is a major breach of international law.

Lane, the other guest interviewed, said that the hunger strike is a “very effective way of the Palestinian prisoners or the Palestinian people bringing attention to their cause.”

“These [prisoners] are essentially on the international stage forgotten people, whether or not they have a cause or whether or not they are being maltreated,” he said.

From the perspective of the Palestinians, Lane said, “this is a winning situation... and they are gaining attention for their cause and their condition.”

He said the hunger strike would work to raise Barghouti’s profile.

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