Some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israel have decided to launch a hunger strike on Tuesday in demand of better conditions.
The number accounts for about a third of Palestinian prisoners who are currently in Israeli prisons. Issa Qaraqi, minister of prisoner affairs in the Palestinian Authority, said that the situation in Israeli prisons has become dangerous, and called on prisoners from all factions and organizations to maintain a united front against the Israel Prison Service.
According to Palestinian reports, 11 administrative prisoners are currently striking.
Officials in the Israel Prison Service claim that they have no knowledge at this point of a plan for a hunger strike among the prisoners. Moreover, the officials said that the threat of a strike is a tool used often by prisoners.
The Israel Prison Service is preparing for Prisoner's Day, to take place on Tuesday, in case the prisoners decide to return the meals handed to them that day. Israel Prison Service defines a hunger strike as one that lasts for at least 48 hours.
Among the prisoners currently striking, three have been striking for more than 40 days. Tair Halala of the Hebron area and Balal Diab of the village of Rai near Jenin, have been hunger-striking for 48 days in demand to be freed. Moreover, Hassan Safdi of Nablus has been on a hunger strike for 41 days and Omer Abu Shlal has been striking for 40 days.
Israel Prison Service confirmed that the four are receiving medical treatment, but say that the prisoners have only been striking for 27 days.
The hunger strikes have gained momentum among administrative prisoners following the campaigns conducted by two high-profile prisoners in recent months. In December, Islamic Jihad operative Khader Adnan went on a hunger strike to protest Israel's administrative detention policy - a provision allowing the state to hold detainees for an unlimited time without trial or formal charges. Adnan ended the hunger strike in February, after 67 days, having struck a deal with the state to release him at the end of a four-month prison term. He is due to be freed in a few days.
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