Inmates begin hunger strike on Palestinian Prisoners' Day

Inmates begin hunger strike on Palestinian Prisoners' Day

Issa Qaraqe, head of prisoners affairs for the Palestinian Authority, said that "around 1 300 Palestinian prisoners" were participating in the hunger strike and the number could rise.

Palestinian movement leader and longtime prisoner Marwan Barghouti, who initiated the call to strike, explained his reasoning in a New York Times op-ed published Sunday.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails have gone on hunger strike over conditions of captivity, with more expected to join on Monday, in one of the biggest protests in recent years.

The PPCS called on the global community to shoulder its legal and moral responsibilities and pressure Israel to stop its ongoing crimes against the Palestinian prisoners.

According to the human rights and prisoner advocacy organization Addameer, which is urging global solidarity with the detainees, "the hunger striking prisoners' demands include: family visits, proper medical care, end to Israel's practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial in so-called administrative detention, and stopping the use of isolation".

Majority are jailed for participating in the struggle against the Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza, lands that Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East War and where the Palestinians wish to establish their future state.

Protesters have launched sympathy marches in several major towns in the West Bank, such as Hebron and Ramallah.

More news: Srinagar By-Polls: 2% Voters Turned Up For Re-Polling, Counting Today

A former leader of the Tanzim brigade - the militant wing of the Fatah political party - Barghouti was convicted in 2004 of five counts of murder, including orchestrating attacks against Israelis.

Opinion polls indicate that Barghouti enjoys widespread support in his quest to replace Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. However, Palestinians from the West Bank need an entry permit to enter Israel and the Israeli authorities often deny such permits.

Palestinians consider those held in Israeli jails as national heroes.

"The prisoners agree to have their calls monitored by the Prison Service, so that the alleged security reasons given by the Prison Service and the Shin Bet against installing telephones are void", he said, according to Ha'aretz.

Palestinian officials said some 1,500 inmates affiliated with all political factions including rival Fatah and Hamas were taking part in the protest.

The prisoners also demand to have periodic medical checkups and to increase the number of visits by the International Red Cross.

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