GAZA - Hundreds of Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli jails said on Friday they would shun vitamin supplements and prison clinics in an escalation of their mass protest against detention conditions.

"We swear we will not retreat. We are potential martyrs. Either we live in dignity or die," prisoner organizers said in a letter announcing the move and which was read out by Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip, during a demonstration.

An estimated 1,600 inmates out of 4,800 launched the hunger strike on April 17 to demand improved conditions in Israeli custody, such as an end to solitary confinement and more family visits. They have also challenged Israel's policy of administrative detention without charge.

The fate of the hunger strikers has touched a raw nerve among Palestinians, with daily support rallies in the West Bank and Gaza, and political leaders warning that Israel could face new violence should any prisoner die.

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