Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel launch hunger strike

Hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel launch hunger strike

The Palestinian observer mission to the United Nations on Monday called for Israel to release thousands of Palestinians it said were "illegally and inhumanely" imprisoned and detained.

"This massive strike sends a strong message to the Israelis, after 50 years of occupation, suppression and oppression, that the prisoners. will lead their people from behind bars", she said.

Barghouti's call for the strike has given it added credibility, with the 57-year-old serving five life sentences over his role in the violent second Palestinian intifada.

Israel said the move by the prisoners, many of whom were convicted of attacks or planning attacks against Israel, was politically motivated.

Israel moved swiftly to try to foil a mass Palestinian prisoner hunger strike, transferring the leader Marwan Barghouti to a different prison and putting him in solitary confinement. Long-term mass hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners are rare, but in past cases of individual inmates who stopped eating for weeks, detention terms were shortened or not renewed after they were hospitalized in critical condition.

Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan held a meeting with prison authorities, police, intelligence agencies and security forces on Sunday (16 April) to address the situation. "Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian", reads the author description underneath the article "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel's Prisons".

In recent years, previous Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli custody have come close to death and had to be hospitalized.

Later Monday, Barghouti, who was incarcerated in Hadarim Prison in central Israel, was moved to Kishon Prison in the north of the country, Hebrew language media reported.

From 700 to 2,000 or more inmates of Israeli prisons reportedly declared a hunger strike on Monday.

"The strike is a decision of the prisoners". Palestinian officials including Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip have voiced their support for the strike.

Many prisoners suffer from medical negligence in jails.

Arab-Israeli lawmaker Dr. Yousef Jabareen (of the Arab Joint List party) also called on the government to meet the demands.

Al Jazeera reached out to the Israel Prison Service for comment but did not receive a response.

"Israel is holding prisoners within its territory, breaching the rules of the Fourth Geneva Convention".

The hunger-striking prisoners were calling for better conditions including access to phones, better medical services and extended visiting rights for their families. The delivery of mail is also limited and hardly takes place.

Of the 6,500 Palestinian detainees, 62 are women and 300 are minors.

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