Palestinian prisoners' strike to start tomorrow, could lead to escalation

The Palestinian Prisoners and Liberties Committee announced Saturday that a first group of security prisoners will begin a hunger strike starting tomorrow.

By YASSER OKBI/MAARIV
April 6, 2019 15:07
2 minute read.
Palestinian prisoners' strike to start tomorrow, could lead to escalation

A drug addict stands behind the bar at a Hamas-run prison in Gaza City March 1, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The Palestinian Prisoners and Liberties Committee announced Saturday that a first group of security prisoners will begin a hunger strike starting tomorrow.

According to the announcement, if their demands are not met by the end of the week, including easing the prison conditions and removing the cellular shields from the prisons in which they were installed, the prisoners will also stop drinking water.

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan (Likud) said that 'the strike would be gradual, tomorrow Hamas leaders would start, and a few days later dozens of other terrorists. A week later, hundreds of prisoners will join them."

"It's true that the Palestinian prisoners have status, but just like two years ago when Barghouti led the longest ever mass hunger strike, they failed to spark a flame and cause mass demonstrations," Erdan said. "Currently, our deployment is to reinforce the forces inside the prison, doctors and paramedics so that there will be no need to evacuate them, and for as few as possible to get out of the prison and flood civilian hospitals, we hope they will break down before that."

The crisis broke out after the installation of cellular shielding in some prisons, which interferes with cellular reception within the prison walls and is intended to prevent security prisoners from using mobile phones.


A few days ago, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh held a press conference in which he presented the list of the demands of the terrorist organization from Israel in the negotiations for the Gaza Strip. "We have placed the issue of Palestinian prisoners at the top of our list of demands and priorities. The Egyptian delegation conveys three requests we made related to the prisoners: first, the removal of cellular shields in the prisons. Second, the abolition of the sanctions imposed on the prisoners in order to guarantee them a dignified life and, in addition, the return of visitors for the prisoners," he said.

According to a source involved in the negotiations, Haniyeh told Nickolay Mladenov, the Bulgarian UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, that Israel's treatment of the Palestinian prisoners may lead to an escalation. Haniyeh also said that the issue is a national consensus among the Palestinian people and could affect any agreements between Israel and Hamas.

"Haniyeh explained to Mladanov in detail the situation in the prisons and about the "barbaric attacks" against the prisoners, as he claimed, following the stabbing of two prison guards last week at Ketziot Prison," the source claimed.

Haniyeh presented the UN envoy with a message from the heads of the prisoners that the situation could escalate if there was no change. The source also claimed that a senior Hamas official asked Maldanov and the UN to intervene in the prison situation in order to prevent the deterioration. According to Palestinian media reports, Egypt and Qatar are also working on the issue.

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