Palestinian Prisoners to Continue Hunger Strike

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Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners will continue their strike in the coming days, though a decision to expand the strike has not been reached. Kadura Fars, the head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, told Haaretz that the committee appointed by the prisoners is still waiting for answers from the Israel Prison Service concerning certain points of negotiation.

According to Kadura, some progress has been made, but no final answers have been reached. “The prisoners are expecting developments and we hope that the committee appointed by the Israeli Prison Service will sit face to face with prisoner representatives and decide on all of the issues,” said Kadura.

Previous hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners sparked unrest and support rallies, such as this one in Nablus, May 2012.Credit: AP

Over the weekend, Haaretz reported progress regarding talks between prisoners and the Israel Prison service, including the lifting of sanctions, in place since before the Gilad Shalit deal, that prohibited academic studies in prison, as well as books and other writing materials. The main points of discussion that remain are visits for prisoners from family members residing in Gaza, and extended solitary confinement.

Representatives of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club reported that hunger-striking prisoners are receiving an outpouring of support from among the Palestinian public in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel, as well as from human rights organizations and left-wing activists.

On Friday and Saturday, processions were held in Umm al-Fahm, Kfar Kana, and Haifa, during which some youths declared the start of a three day hunger strike of their own, a display of solidarity with the prisoners. Political organizations from both sides of the Green Line issued a public statement of support for the prisoners, especially for prisoners held in administrative detention.

The public manifesto was signed by political parties Hadash, Balad, National Union, The Palestinian People’s party, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, among others. “The immediate demand to the Israeli government is the release of all administrative detainees, and all prisoners, those on hunger-strikes and those who aren’t,” read the statement.

“Also, we are calling for the end of the policy of administrative detention, as a method for arrest without trial, based on secret information not shared with prisoners or layers. This policy is not in line with basic standards of justice,” continued the statement.

The statement also accused the Israel Prison Service of ignoring the demands of long-time prisoners to end extended solitary confinement, and permit visits from family members residing in Gaza. The statement also noted that the hunger strike is not being carried out only as a struggle for prisoners, but as part of the national struggle to end the occupation of Palestine as well.