A Hamas leader warned Friday that Israel would face “unexpected” consequences if
any of the approximately 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails currently
on hunger strike were to die.
“You must realize that the hunger strike
isn’t a party, and we could be surprised by the death of some of them,” AFP
quoted Khalil al-Haya as saying at a solidarity tent for the strikers in Gaza
City. “If that happens, you can expect both the expected and the unexpected from
Two Palestinian prisoners, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, have been
on a hunger strike for 66 days. On April 17 they were joined in the strike by
more than 1,500 other prisoners, in protest of the Israeli practice of holding
Palestinians in administrative detention without trial or bringing formal
charges against them. Palestinians have held rallies in Gaza and the West Bank
in support of the prisoners.
On Thursday, Diab lost consciousness as
Supreme Court Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Yoram Danziger and Noam Sohlberg
heard a petition against the prisoners’ administrative detention. Diab was moved
to Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin, where his lawyer told reporters he
was in stable condition. The court is expected to make a decision on the
petition at a later date.
“We are summoned to ready armies to free our
prisoners,” Hamas quoted Haya as saying on Friday. “We have the means to
mobilize and for combat.”
Rival Islamist movement Islamic Jihad has
threatened to break an informal truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip if any
hunger striker dies.
In addition to calling for an end to administrative
detention, prisoners are also calling for an end to solitary confinement, the
right to visitation by family members from the Gaza Strip and the reversal of
Israel’s decision to ban prisoners from engaging in academic studies and reading
Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Friday that Israel had
agreed to meet some of the prisoners’ demands, including a larger spending
stipend and the right to make phone calls. According to the report, the leaders
of the hunger strike were currently considering the offer.
quoted Palestinian Authority official Nimmer Hammed as saying the PA was in
communication with several countries, including the US, about the hunger
The strike has already led human rights groups and UN Special
Rapporteur Richard Falk to condemn Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners.