JERUSALEM: Around 1,300 Palestinians in Israeli prisons on Monday started an indefinite hunger strike to demand an improvement in their conditions.
Akram Atallah, of the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), told Efe news that it hopes more prisoners will continue joining the call, which coincides with the national Palestinian Prisoners’ Day held every April 17.
PNA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah declared his support for the hunger strike that demands prisoners have their basic needs and rights met.
Hamdallah said in a statement that the strike was an attempt to end arbitrary administrative detention, torture, unfair trials, the detention of children, medical negligence, solitary confinement, inhuman treatment and the deprivation of basic rights such as family visits and education.
According to figures from the PNA, about 6,500 Palestinians are in 22 Israeli prisons and in detention centres, including 300 minors, 12 lawmakers and 28 journalists.
Prisoners’ advocacy organisations like Addameer and the Palestinian Prisoners Club say that 1,500 prisoners are in poor health and receive little medical care.
The hunger strike was called by one of the leaders of the nationalist Fatah party, Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for attacks during the Second Intifada.
Under the motto “Strike for freedom and dignity”, the prisoners presented a series of demands, including the improvement of the visits system, and the end of solitary confinement and administrative detention, which allows detention without charge or trial for periods of six months renewable indefinitely.
Yousef Jabareen, a member of the Israeli parliament, has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to deal with the demands and accused the Israeli authorities of violating the Fourth Geneva Convention.