Dozens of Palestinian prisoners on Saturday ended their participation in a mass hunger strike, a Prisons Service spokesman said. “Eighty-four Hamas prisoners in Gilboa Prison ended their hunger strikes and were returned to their normal cells,” the spokesman said on Sunday.
Earlier in the weekend, the Prisons Service said that 100 other hunger-striking prisoners, held in a variety of facilities, quit the hunger strikeMore than a thousand security prisoners, led by Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted in 2004 of five counts of murder, are carrying out a hunger strike in Israeli prisons. They are demanding an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, an increase in family visitations, and an improvement in medical care and amenities.PLO Commission for Prisoner Affairs Chairman Issa Qaraqaa denied that prisoners ended their hunger strike. “The opposite is true,” he told Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news site.Eighty additional prisoners started hunger strikes on Sunday, according to Qaraqaa. The Prisons Service spokesman, however, said that only 13 prisoners started a hunger strike on Sunday. Qaraqaa did not clarify the source of his information.Meanwhile, the West Bank’s ruling party Fatah called on Palestinians to participate in a day of rage this Friday in support of the prisoners. Fatah is urging Palestinians “to clash with the occupier at all friction points,” Maan, a Palestinian news agency, reported on Saturday.The PA security forces frequently block Palestinian protesters from reaching “friction points” with the IDF. It is unclear if the PA security forces will do this on Friday. PA security forces spokesman Adnan al-Damiri did not respond to a request for comment.Fatah also is calling for a general strike on Thursday to support the hunger-strikers.Since the start of the mass hunger strike on April 17, a number of protests and sit-ins have taken place around the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.Palestinian leaders have warned of a possible “uprising,” if the prisoners’ demands are not met.Top Fatah leader Jibril Rajoub told Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit, who visited him in Ramallah on Thursday, he hoped Israeli officials will address the prisoners’ demands “before it is too late.”Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai has dismissed the possibility of an uprising over the hunger strike.“The Palestinian street” is not concerned with the ongoing hunger strike, Mordechai wrote on Facebook on Friday.“Marwan Barghouti... is desperate for achievements that will help his political future,” Mordechai wrote. “The Palestinian street understands the motives of this strike, and therefore is not interested.”
Palestinians hold rallies as hundreds of prisoners in Israeli jails begin a hunger strike (credit: REUTERS)