Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

No talks with Palestinian inmates on hunger strike

No talks with Palestinian inmates on hunger strike

Around 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners from six jails in Israel have kicked off an open-ended hunger strike to protest the disgusting jail conditions.

The large-scale hunger strike began on Monday, with prisoners demanding improved conditions, including visits, medical treatment, and education. According to Palestinian media reports, Zomlot spoke with Michael Ratney, the diplomat now in charge of the Israeli-Palestinian file at the State Department, about the reasons for the hunger strike and the demands raised by the prisoner leaders.

For its part, the administration of the Israel Prison Service (IPS) said that the article was unlawful, because Barghouthi was not given permission to write it.

Israeli prisons hold around 6,500 Palestinians, including 300 minors.

Erdan said a field hospital would be erected next to one prison - an apparent move to pre-empt transfers to civilian medical facilities, which could draw wider media attention.

Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said Tuesday that he believes the strike is politically motivated and that the prisoners have no legitimate complaints. They demand better conditions, including stopping the administrative detentions, an indefinable incarceration without charges for renewable periods of six months. It is led by jailed Marwan Barghouti, a leader of the Fatah movement of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who is serving five life terms after being convicted of murder in the killing of Israelis in a 2000-05 uprising.

"Calling Barghouti a "political leader" is like calling Assad a 'pediatrician.' They are murderers and terrorists". Israeli officials were livid with the New York Times after it published an op-ed by Barghouti on April 16, in synch with the start of the strike and omitting any reference to his incarceration being the result of multiple murder convictions. Palestinian Prisoners' Club is an organisation that advocates on behalf of the inmates. "It is to be emphasized that the (prison service) does not negotiate with prisoners".

The hunger strike was launched as the approaching half-century mark of Israeli rule over Palestinians appeared to generate renewed interest in the long-running conflict, which in recent years was often overshadowed by war and turmoil elsewhere in the region.

Opinion polls indicate that Barghouti enjoys widespread support in his quest to replace Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

According to reports, he was transferred along with three other prisoners from Israel's Hadarim prison to Jalama prison, north of Jenin in an effort to thwart the ongoing hunger strike among almost 1000 Palestinian prisoners.

Some Israeli analysts have sought to highlight the rivalry between Barghouti and Abbas within their Fatah party, suggesting his call for a hunger strike was also related to internal politics.

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