Palestinian People Mark Palestinian Prisoners' Day

The hunger striking prisoners' demands include: family visits, proper medical care, end to Israel's practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial in so-called administrative detention and stopping the use of isolation.

Israeli authorities say approximately 1,100 of them are participating in the strike in eight prisons, NPR's Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv reports, of the approximately 6,200 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

The United Nations on Tuesday said it was following closely a hunger strike by more than 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and urged restraint following clashes with the strikers' supporters in the West Bank.

Barghouti's op-ed, timed with the announcement of a Palestinian prisoner hunger strike, accused Israel of "judicial apartheid" and the abuse of Palestinians behind bars.

While hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners are not uncommon, the scale of this movement is unusual. "When they ask for the basic rights like public telephone and regular visits by their families, these are legitimate rights", said Omar Yaghmour, the brother of a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike.

Erdan also said prominent Palestinian prisoner Barghouti, the organizer of the protest, has been placed in solitary confinement.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that Israel protested to the New York Times over the piece.

The strike coincides with Palestinian Prisoners Day, which is annually marked on the 17th of April, a month dedicated to Palestinian prisoners. In 2011, Israel swapped more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier who had been held by Hamas for five years. Polls suggest that Barghouti, convicted by an Israeli court of deadly attacks against Israelis, is the most popular successor to President Mahmoud Abbas.

The strike could also heighten Israeli-Palestinian tensions at a time of renewed US attempts to restart stalled peace negotiations.

There is no mention that Barghouti was convicted of five counts of murder and one attempted murder after being given a fair trial, and that he was the commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades during the Second Intifada.

However, Palestinians from the West Bank need an entry permit into Israel and Israeli authorities often deny such permits.

"It is to be emphasised that the (prison service) does not negotiate with prisoners".

The Israel Prison Service was not immediately available to respond to Barghouti's accusation.

  • Leroy Wright