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Palestinian captives launch hunger strike amid Israeli crackdown

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement march in solidarity with prisoners in Israeli jails, in Khan Yunis, the southern Gaza Strip, September 27, 2021. (File photo by AFP)

Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons have launched a hunger strike in protest against the regime’s intensified crackdown on detainees.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club said in a statement on Wednesday that some of the Islamic Jihad captives were on a hunger strike, demanding an end to repressive measures imposed by the Israeli prison authorities following the escape of six inmates from a maximum-security jail on September 6, Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen television network reported.

According to the statement, the hunger strike is part of “the struggle program” that aims to confront the Israeli prison system, which includes isolation and distribution of detainees to separate cells in order to prevent them from organizing.

The Palestinian Information Center quoted Palestinian organizations for prisoners, including the Palestinian Prisoners Club, as saying that the 250 Palestinian prisoners affiliated with Islamic Jihad launched the hunger strike on Wednesday.

According to the PIC, the head of Palestinian Prisoners Club, Qadura Fares, said the number of hunger strikers is expected to increase over the upcoming days, adding that 100 of the 250 people would begin refusing water after one week. He noted that prisoners affiliated with other factions would also join the strike.

Prisoners from the Hamas resistance movement, the Fatah faction, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine would also join the hunger strike.

On September 6, Zakaria Zubeidi, a former commander of the Palestinian resistance group al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in Jenin, and five members of the Islamic Jihad group managed to tunnel their way out through their cell’s drainage system to escape from the maximum-security jail of Gilboa.

It was the biggest Palestinian escape from an Israeli jail since 1987, when six members of the Islamic Jihad broke out of a heavily-guarded jail in Gaza.

After the recent escape of the six inmates, Israel adopted collective punitive measures against the Palestinian prisoners. The six Palestinian prisoners were all recaptured nearly two weeks later.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly held in Israeli jails. Hundreds have been incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention, which allows holding Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons without trial or charge. Some Palestinian prisoners have even been held in administrative detention for up to eleven years.

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