Some 1,200 Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails announced the start
of a hunger strike on Tuesday, to mark the Palestinian Authority’s “Prisoner
A further 1,100 prisoners returned their daily meals on Tuesday,
but did not say they were beginning a hunger strike, the Prisons Service
Eight pro-Palestinian activists who arrived in Israel on Sunday as
part of the “flytilla,” and who are awaiting deportation at a holding facility
in Givon, said they too would return their meals to identify with the security
“We’ve dealt with hunger strikes in the past, and we’re
prepared for them now as well,” the Prisons Service said.
On Monday, a
Prisons Service source told The Jerusalem Post, “The threat of a hunger strike
is always there. Should it be fulfilled, we are ready to deal with it. No
special preparations are necessary.”
Before Tuesday’s announcement by the
prisoners, the Prisons Service was aware of seven Palestinian hunger strikers,
most of whom are at its medical clinic in Ramle, where their fluid levels and
weight are being monitored by doctors.
Palestinians in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip marked Prisoner Day by holding a number of rallies in solidarity with
the striking prisoners.
However, families of the prisoners expressed
disappointment with low turnout at most of the rallies, noting that last year
more Palestinians took to the streets to voice their support for the
PA Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqi said that 1,600
prisoners were originally slated to participate in the hunger strike, but the number dropped because of political
differences between the inmates. He predicted that the number would rise in the
The hunger strike was initiated by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the
Liberation of Palestine. Fatah prisoners have refused to join the hunger strike
at this stage.
In a rare show of unity, Hamas and Fatah supporters held a
rally at Hebron University in the West Bank on the occasion of Prisoner
Day. Speakers at the event urged Palestinians to stand behind the
striking prisoners and stressed that there would be no peace until all prisoners
are released from Israeli prisons.
In a message to the Palestinians, PA
President Mahmoud Abbas demanded that the prisoners held in Israel be treated as
prisoners of war. He praised the prisoners as heroes and urged them to unite
their ranks in prison.
Addressing the prisoners, Abbas said: “I talk to
you from the bottom of my heart to assure you that your case is in my heart,
mind, conscience and existence. I carry your case wherever I go and it is at the
top of my list of priorities. We will not be comforted until you gain your