Palestinian Prisoners Begin Mass Hunger Strike

Israel Prison Service said about 1,100 prisoners joined the strike on Monday.

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

Also, the prisons, where the detainees have access to TV, had their satellite receptions blocked from all Palestinian and Arab TV stations. "We will not surrender to it".

"When a despicable murderer like Barghouti protests in prison for improved conditions, while the relatives of those he murdered are still in pain, there is only one solution - death penalty for terrorists", Senior Minister Yisrael Katz wrote on Twitter.

Oren, until recently Israel's ambassador to Washington, accused the editors of the New York Times of running the piece deliberately on the last day of Passover in order to make it hard for the Israeli government to respond.

Among them are detained leaders, legislator Marwan Barghouthi, and Karim Younis, who were transferred from solitary confinement in Hadarim to solitary confinement in al-Jalama prison.

The strike, if sustained, could present a challenge to Israel and raise tensions between the two sides as the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip approaches in June.

The Prisoners' Club said a main demand was for Israel to halt detention without trial for some 500 Palestinians now being held and for an end to solitary confinement.

But many believe Barghouti orchestrated the strike to coincide with Palestinian "Prisoners Day" in an effort to demonstrate his political clout and send a message to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other Fatah leaders, who have lately sidelined him and his allies.

"The prisons service has started taking disciplinary measures against the strikers and in addition a number of prisoners have been transferred to separate wings", he said.

"My policy is that you can't negotiate with prisoners such as these".

It added that Israel has also installed a field clinic in the Negev desert to use for placing the ailing hunger striking detainees after deciding not to move any of them to Israeli hospitals.

Erdan says the prisoners receive all privileges required by worldwide law. Recent polls have shown the popular Fatah figure could win an election for the Palestinian presidency. Those talks began more than a year and a half ago. "Second is the fact that Barghouti is feeling that he is not being considered enough by the Palestinian Authority, so he has to come forward and say something and gain some political power outside", she added.

Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in support of the inmates. At least 13 Palestinians reportedly injured in clashes with Israeli troops.

However, the hunger strikers have denounced the torture, ill-treatment, and medical neglect of Palestinian prisoners at the hands of Israeli authorities, as well as Israel's widespread use of administrative detention - internment without trial or charges - which is only permitted under global law in extremely limited circumstances.

  • Leroy Wright