More than 1000 Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike

An activist said Monday that more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners have launched an open-ended hunger strike to demand better conditions in Israeli prisons, including more contact with relatives, and an end to Israel's practice of detentions without trial.

In the NYT piece, Barghouti accused Israel of conducting "mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners", and said that a hunger strike is "the most peaceful form of resistance available" against these abuses.

The hunger strike was called for in connection with Palestinian Prisoners Day, observed annually, but also ahead of commemorations this summer marking 50 years since the 1967 Six Day War and the start of Israel's occupation.

"Ahmed", a 32-year-old from Hebron now held in administrative detention in Ketziot prison in the Negev desert, told Amnesty International that he was joining the mass hunger strike in the hope that it will pressure the authorities to allow his 70-year-old mother, who has been repeatedly denied a permit, to visit him.

About 700 prisoners joined the protest, which was announced overnight between Sunday and Monday, to coincide with the Palestinian Prisoners' Day.

In Fatah's most recent conference, held in November, Barghouti was elected to the Fatah Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council, pulling in more votes than any other candidate.

"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". In doing so, it has unlawfully and forcibly transferred Palestinian civilians into captivity, and has used this situation to restrict family visits and to inflict suffering on prisoners through long transports under cruel conditions. One cage held two Palestinians in Israeli prison uniform. Israeli authorities believed he was directly responsible for as many as 37 attacks, but judges ruled they lacked sufficient proof of his involvement in many of those cases. Barghouti is considered to be Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' successor.

Israel has built almost all of its prisons inside Israel rather than in the occupied territory.

The prisoners also demand to have periodic medical checkups and to increase the number of visits by the International Red Cross. However, Palestinians from the West Bank need an entry permit to enter Israel and the Israeli authorities often deny such permits.

Of the some 6,500 Palestinian detainees held by Israel, 62 are women and 300 are minors. Palestinians consider brethren held in Israeli jails as national heroes.

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