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Palestinians at notorious Israeli jail begin hunger strike

Palestinian women take part in a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, April 17, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Palestinians held in Israeli detention without charge or a chance to stand trial have begun an open-ended hunger strike against their dire situation at Ofer Prison.

Five Palestinians began the strike at the prison near the city of Ramallah on Friday, the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported, citing the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.

The committee said the strike was “part of their struggle to improve their conditions.”

It named the hunger strikers as Mahmoud Ayyad, Islam Jawarish, Thaer al-Helou, Issa Awad, and Nadim Rjoub. It said the Israel Prisons Service had immediately reacted to the protest measure by isolating the prisoners.

The strike came after prison authorities “failed to keep a promise to reconsider the administrative detention issue and discuss it with the representatives of the prisoners in a broad session,” the committee said.

It said the number of the hunger strikers could rise and that the prisoners were to boycott medical services offered to keep them alive. 

Among the 7,000 Palestinians, who are reportedly held in Israeli jails, more than 400 are held in administrative detention, including lawmakers.

Ofer Prison is the most notorious jail for Palestinians. It was opened in 1988 a year after the outbreak of the first intifada.

It was closed in 1995 as part of the Oslo Peace process but reopened in 2002 once the second intifada kicked into high gear. 

Palestinian prisoners have increasingly been turning to hunger strikes to protest their incarcerations.

Most Palestinians in Israeli prisons are “security prisoners”, meaning they were detained in connection with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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