Hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel launch hunger strike

Qaraq said more prisoners may join the hunger strike later today, which was planned to coincide with Palestinian Prisoners' Day.

The strike was called by imprisoned Fatah party leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms for his involvement in the killing of Israelis earlier this century.

"They have central demands and will continue to fast until they achieve them".

The Palestinian prisoners are subjected to countless violations amid an Israeli disregard for the worldwide conventions related to prisoners.

"Even though it Is one of the most unsafe and hard decisions, they are only making this choice because conditions [inside the prisons] have reached a new low", said al-Taweel.

There are now approximately 7,000 Palestinians being detained in Israeli prisons, including over 300 children, 8 elected Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and 600 administrative detainees (who are held indefinitely, without charge or trial). Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment and medical negligence. Sick prisoners have also reported being denied water.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club non-governmental organisation put the number at 1,500. "Some people wait four years to get surgery", said al-Taweel. What is it with the arrogance of the occupier and the oppressor and their backers that makes them deaf to this simple truth: Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost.

Additionally, prisoners are demanding better treatment when being transferred between prisons or between courts and prisons. Four of them were arrested. Their detention periods can be indefinitely renewed.

The issue of visitation rights is a particular concern for the prisoners, Britain's the Guardian said.

Israel, the occupying power, has violated global law in multiple ways for almost 70 years, and yet has been granted impunity for its actions. As part of Israel's effort to undermine the Palestinian struggle for freedom, an Israeli court sentenced me to five life sentences and 40 years in prison in a political show trial that was denounced by worldwide observers.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are now detained by Israel for a range of offences and alleged crimes.

In the West Bank and Gaza, thousands staged solidarity marches to mark Prisoners' Day in the Palestinian areas. "This is a crippling restriction on access to family and loved ones", explained Shakir.

Hamas recently suggested it would support a smaller Palestine state, without specifying if this would be a stepping stone to Israel's destruction.

Some 740 Palestinians are held in administrative detention, according to Qaraqe.

"Prisoners who decide to [hunger] strike will face serious consequences", the Prison Service said in a statement, as quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz."Strikes and protests are illegal activities and will face unwavering penalization".

Israel is holding captive at least 6500 Palestinians, including 300 children, 19 mothers, and 500 who are held under Administrative Detention orders without charges or trial.

According to Shakir, a mass hunger strike is an attempt by Palestinian prisoners to shed light on such practices that raise serious questions about Israel's policies under worldwide law.

  • Joey Payne