Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Palestinian prisoners begin indefinite hunger strike, OIC asks world leaders to intervene


An Israeli minister said Tuesday that Israel will not negotiate with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners who launched Monday a hunger strike, demanding improved incarceration conditions.

Barghouti, described by the Times as a "Palestinian leader and parliamentarian", is a convicted terrorist serving five consecutive life terms plus 40 years for masterminding suicide bombing missions during the second intifada (armed Palestinian uprising) that killed scores of Israelis. Many are held under the Administrative Detention provision, which allows suspects to be held without charge for six months, BBC reported.

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.

The Israeli prison service on Monday put that number at about 1,100.

Many of these people's medical requirements are neglected, and owing to this more than 50 Palestinian prisoners lost their lives since 1967, says the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

While Israel considers Barghouti a security threat, regular polls by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research consistently show he is the most favored figure among Palestinians to take over from President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Arab League called on Sunday for worldwide protection for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, Anadolu has reported.

Hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners occur regularly, but rarely on such a large scale.

Israel Prison Service, which "has past experience in dealing with hunger strikes and has the means to contain them", was transferring striking prisoners to separate cell blocks, she said in a statement. "In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it".

"Prisoners who decide to strike will face serious consequences", the Prison Service said in a statement, adding that "strikes and protests are illegal activities and will face unwavering penalisation".

Palestinian prisoners have gone on a mass hunger strike to demand better conditions.

Israel denies Palestinian inmates are mistreated and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the Barghouti-led protest was "prompted by internal Palestinian politics and therefore includes unreasonable demands".

Israeli media slammed a recent column by Barghouti that was published in the New York Times, in which he explained the rationale for his hunger strike, criticizing the paper for failing to mention that Barghouti had been jailed for murder as a leader of Fatah's armed wing.

According to a report released by three Palestinian non-governmental organizations, a total of 6,500 Palestinians, including women, children and lawmakers, are being held in prisons and detention facilities across the occupied territories.

The strike also comes at a hard time for the Palestinian Authority, whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is aging and unpopular.

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