Hamas threatens Israel if hunger striker dies

Hamas leader al-Haya says group will ready army if any of the 1500 hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli jails dies.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
May 4, 2012 23:22
2 minute read.
Masked Hamas terrorists

Masked Hamas terrorists 311 (R). (photo credit: Mohammed Salem / Reuters)

 
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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 us.”

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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 newspapers.

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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.

Ma’an also quoted Palestinian Authority official Nimmer Hammed as saying the PA was in communication with several countries, including the US, about the hunger strike.

The strike has already led human rights groups and UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk to condemn Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

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