Palestinian women sit near a section of Israel's separation barrier at Qalandia checkpoint in front of a painted mural of Marwan Barghouti.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Seven hundred Palestinian prisoners declared that they will open a hunger strike on Monday, the Israel Prison Service said on Sunday.
The prisoners, led by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, are calling on Israel to respond affirmatively to a list of demands, some of which include: Increased family visitation rights, improved medical services, ending administrative detention and greater access to educational materials.
Barghouti, who was sentenced to five life sentences in 2004, is seen as a major contender to succeed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The vast majority of the prisoners participating in the hunger strike belong to Fatah, but some Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners have said they will refuse meals as well. Hundreds of additional prisoners are expected to declare their intention to join the hunger strike in the coming days.
The Prison Service said that it will retaliate against prisoners who choose to carry out a hunger strike. “Prisoners who decide to strike will face serious consequences,” the Prison Service said.
The Prison Service considers hunger striking as a violation of the law. Demonstrations and protests are set to take place around the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Monday to mark Prisoners Day and express solidarity with hunger strikers.
There are approximately 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, serving a variety of sentences.