Hamas members held in Israeli jails are planning a one-day hunger strike for
Monday in protest against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to
deprive them of certain privileges, the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip
announced on Sunday.RELATED:Hamas: Revoking prisoners' privileges is against
int'l law We are leaving Gilad Schalit for dead, MK Cabel says
The hunger strike will be followed by other steps if
the prison authorities don’t stop their new measures, Riyad al-Ashqar, spokesman
for the Hamas-run Ministry for Prisoners Affairs, said.
strike was also being held to demand an end to the solitary confinement of Yehya
al-Sinwar, a top Hamas leader who is allegedly in poor health, Ashqar
The spokesman claimed that in recent days prison authorities have
stepped up their “fierce onslaught” against prisoner leaders, especially those
belonging to Hamas, placing some of them in solitary confinement.
the authorities have moved several prisoners to other prisons, separating them
from their friends, the spokesman added.
The ministry called on the
Palestinian groups holding IDF soldier Gilad Schalit in Gaza to stick to their
demands and not to make any compromises for a prisoner swap with
“The decision to put pressure on [Hamas] prisoners is an
expression of clear failure and bankruptcy,” the ministry said.
urged Palestinians to support the prisoners’ protests.
Also on Sunday,
the Gazabased Center for Prisoners and Human Rights called on those holding
Schalit to increase their demands, arguing that Israel would eventually succumb
and reach a prisoner exchange deal.
Fuad al-Khaffash, director of the
center, said the groups holding Schalit “should stick by their demands and
announce, in the wake of Netanyahu’s intransigence, that they are being forced
to change their conditions and ask for more.”
He said that this was the
least that could be done in light of Netanyahu’s recent decision to worsen the
conditions of the Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails.
Khaffash said that
the kidnapping of Schalit five years ago has raised hopes among prisoners and
their families that a prisoner swap is possible.
“The most suitable
option for releasing prisoners is by taking soldiers as prisoners, and not
through negotiations,” he said.
Hamas’s success in holding on to Schalit
for such a long time is the “biggest victory for the resistance,” he
Meanwhile, several human rights organizations called on Hamas to
end the illegal treatment of Schalit. “Hamas authorities must immediately end
the cruel and inhuman treatment of Gilad Schalit, enable him to communicate with
his family and grant him access to the International Committee of the Red
Cross,” the groups said in a statement.
The statement was signed by
Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, Gisha:
Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Human Rights Watch, Public Committee
Against Torture, Physicians for Human Rights, Palestinian Center for Human
Rights (Gaza), The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Yesh Din: Volunteers
for Human Rights and the International Federation for Human Rights.