Friday, 19 October, 2018

Palestinian hunger strike sparks clashes with Israeli forces in Bethlehem

Palestinian prisoners walk at the yard of the Israeli prison of Megiddo Palestinian prisoners walk at the yard of the Israeli prison of Megiddo
Melinda Barton | 20 April, 2017, 06:56

The Palestinian Authority's newly appointed envoy to Washington, Husam Zomlot, spoke on Tuesday with a senior official in the U.S. State Department about the hunger strike announced by thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

The umbrella body highlighted the deteriorating situation of those Palestinian prisoners who fall ill and are often neglected by the Israeli authorities.

Palestinians are holding rallies and protests across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in solidarity with the prisoners.

The publication of the article marked the beginning of a hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinians jailed in Israel seeking more favorable conditions.

As many as 1.500 prisoners could be participating in the strikes, which have been planned to coincide with the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day.

On Monday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry complained that jailed Palestinians should not be described as "political prisoners".

Activists said more than 1,500 of about 6,500 Palestinian security prisoners joined the open-ended protest.

Palestinian families seeking to visit imprisoned relatives require permits to enter Israel, which are usually given selectively and declined during Israeli army border closings. Some 500 are held under administrative detention, which allows for imprisonment without charges or trial.

If sustained, the strike led by Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader jailed during the second Palestinian uprising, would be the largest in recent years.

Israeli officials have dealt with hunger strikes on the part of Palestinian protestors before, however, they are clearly rattled by the scale of this one, which comes as the worldwide community recognizes the 50 anniversary of the Israeli occupation.

Israel has denied suggestions that Palestinian prisoners have been left in poor conditions.

Barghouti is now serving five life sentences for having a prominent role in the second Palestinian intifada - a period of uprising against Israel between 2000 and 2005 that saw the deaths of 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis.

Erdan said Barghouti was transferred to another prison in northern Israel and was placed in solitary confinement. "They were brought to justice and are treated properly under global law".

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

An essay by Barghouti was smuggled out of his Israeli prison and printed as an op-ed in The New York Times.

It also stated that "in accordance with the policy set by the minister of public security, the Prison Service does not negotiate with the prisoners".