Israel: 1,200 Palestinian prisoners begin hunger strike


Palestinians demonstrate in Gaza City on April 17, 2012 in solidarity with prisoners held in Israel. Some 1,200 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails have begun a hunger strike and another 2,300 are refusing food for one day, a spokeswoman for the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) said as Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza Strip were marking Prisoners' Day in solidarity with the 4,700 Palestinian inmates of Israeli jails.


Mahmud Hams

About 1,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began an open-ended hunger strike today, according to Haaretz. The strikers are protesting what they call "humiliating" measures and conditions inside the prisons.

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The Guardian reported that the strikes are to "draw attention to imprisonment without charge and solitary confinement." Previous hunger strikes, with at least 11 prisoners currently refusing food and one also refusing fluids, led to the release of prisoners. 

Khader Adnan refused food for 67 days and ended his fast in February after securing a release deal with Israeli prisoner officials. Adnan was protesting the country's "administrative detention policy," which allows prisoners to be held without trial on undeclared charges. Adnan will be freed Monday. 

About 300 of the estimated 4,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons are held under administrative detention. Haaretz wrote that three of those striking before today's mass strike have refused food for over 40 days. 

Hana Shalabi, a hunger striker from Gaza who was released, told the paper the strikes are "a good and effective tool, and the only way prisoners can achieve something."

Israel Prison Services says it will not bargain with the protesters, according to the BBC, though strikers say it will be the most "determined" in "decades."