Khaled Mashaal and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke by
telephone on Thursday about rallying Palestinians to support prisoners on their
hunger strike protesting against certain Israeli prison policies, such as
administrative detention, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Friday, citing
a Hamas statement.
According to the statement, the call between Mashaal
and Abbas focused on rallying grassroots Palestinian efforts to support the
prisoners’ demands to end the practices of administrative detention and solitary
The two men also discussed tactical strategies for
emphasizing prisoner issues and the open-ended hunger strike, dubbed the “battle
of empty stomachs” by organizers, on the public relations and diplomatic
The start of the strike last week coincided with the release of
Khader Adnan, a prisoner who refused food for 66 days before agreeing to a deal
under which he was freed. Adnan is a member of Islamic Jihad.
striking prisoners said they would drink only water and salt until their demands
Prisoners said they were also protesting a government clampdown
on prisoners’ privileges that started in 2011 that included preventing access to
books, educational programs and new clothes; expanding solitary confinement;
cutting back on family visits; and forcing detainees to meet their lawyers with
their hands cuffed.
Security prisoners began enrolling in university in
1994 after a number of them launched a hunger strike demanding the same right to
study as criminal prisoners, who have enjoyed that right since 1978. Since the
Open University doesn’t require students to have a high school matriculation
certificate, Palestinians can study without preparatory courses.
has taken measures against some 1,200 Palestinian prisoners involved in the
hunger strike, denying them family visits and separating them from inmates not
taking part in the protest.
Yaakov Lappin and Reuters contributed to this