HADASH MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint Arab List, speaks at the Knesset in this file photo..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh joined the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike for a day on Thursday, while in a protest tent in Nazareth.
“I joined the strike in identification with the struggle of the political prisoners in order to help increase awareness in the general public in the country for the just and basic demands of the prisoners,” Odeh said.
More than 1,000 Palestinians, serving time for terrorist offenses, have been on strike for several weeks, calling for better conditions. The strike is being led by Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted of murdering four Israelis and a Greek monk, as well as of one count of attempted murder.
Cabinet ministers have accused Barghouti of leading the hunger strike to bolster his political standing as a potential successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Barghouti was recently caught eating cookies and chocolate in his cell at Sharon Prison.
According to Odeh, among all Palestinian prisoners, there are 300 minors and 700 in administrative detention.
“One of the first demands of the prisoners is the installation of public telephones so they can stay in touch with their families, who some of them haven’t seen for years,” he said.
“The prisoners are fighting so that the families that can come for visits will get humane, basic conditions like use of a bathroom.”
Odeh also said the prisoners want better medical care, and to be treated better when they are transported between prisons or to court.
The Joint List chairman accused the government of using “cheap and ugly tactics” to try to deter the hunger strikers.
Some Palestinians have said that the tape of Barghouti eating was doctored.
“They will not break the spirit of those fighting for their most basic rights. Beyond that, we see solidarity around the world with the hunger strikers is only growing. The government must stop abusing them and start negotiations immediately, before their health situation begins to deteriorate,” Odeh added.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he is “sad for Arab citizens of Israel that the head of the list in the Knesset that is supposed to represent them is investing most of his time helping and supporting terrorists and murderers instead of helping the police and I build police stations in Arab towns to strengthen personal security.”