Palestinians urge Israel to talk as prisoner hunger strike grows (CNN) Cable News Network) From Kareem Khadder JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 04/26/12)
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Jerusalem (CNN) -- A group representing 1,650 Palestinian prisoners
who are on a hunger strike in protest of the conditions of their
detention urged Israel Thursday to start urgent talks on the
treatment of prisoners.
The Palestinian Prisoner Association Club said Israel should enter a
dialogue immediately with representatives of prisoners in all
prisons. It also called on the United Nations and European Union to
intervene on the issue.
About 150 prisoners in Israel´s Ofer military prison in the West Bank
joined the hunger strike Wednesday, a week after 1,500 fellow
Palestinian detainees launched their action.
Another 100 are expected to join the mass protest next week, said
Amani Sarahna, a media officer for the Palestinian Prisoner
Nine of those involved have been on hunger strike for more than a
month, two of them for 59 days. Fears are growing for their health,
The prisoners are protesting Israel´s policy of administrative
detention, a controversial Israeli practice that allows authorities
to detain people indefinitely. There is no requirement to charge
detainees held under this practice.
The detainees also accuse Israel of mistreating prisoners by keeping
them in solitary confinement for long periods, denying them visits
from their families, assaulting detainees, denying medical treatment
and blocking access to education.
Of the roughly 4,700 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons,
approximately 300 are in administrative detention.
Hassan Abed Rabo, a spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of
Detainees and ex-Detainees, told CNN that a committee of high ranking
officials from within the Israeli prison service had met the
representatives of prisoners inside all Israeli prisons to listen to
Rabo described the hunger strike as "the last weapon for the
prisoners inside Israeli prisons to preserve their dignity and obtain
their human rights."
The prisoners´ demands concern their daily conditions in detention
and are not political, he said.
Israeli officials are expected to decide in the coming days whether
to consider the detainees´ demands.
Sivan Weizman, Israeli prison service spokeswoman, confirmed that
meetings had been going on but was not able to say when the decision
The Palestinian Prisoner Association Club warned that it would hold
Israel responsible for any harm that comes to detainees taking part
in the hunger strike.
An Israeli military court has rejected an appeal by two of those on
hunger strike, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla, challenging their
detention, the club said. They have appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has already rejected the appeal of another
prisoner, Hassan al-Safadi, the club statement said.
The mass protest follows two high-profile hunger strikes by
Palestinian prisoners in recent months.
In February, Khader Adnan ended a 66-day strike after his sentence
was commuted, and last month, female prisoner Hana Shalabi was
deported to Gaza after refusing to eat for 44 days. Both Adnan and
Shalabi were being held in administrative detention for suspected
terrorist activity, according to the Israeli government.
Their hunger strikes became rallying cries for Palestinians, who
staged multiple demonstrations of support in the West Bank and Gaza
and launched a social media campaign to shed light on Israel´s
detention policies. (© 2012 Cable News Network 04/26/12)
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