Two Palestinian prisoners continue hunger strike

Though most prisoners ended strike last month, two prisoners have been striking for 59, 80 days, say will not stop until freed.

June 3, 2012 18:02
2 minute read.
Palestinians in Gaza rally to free hunger strikers

Palestinians rally to free hunger strikers 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)


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Two Palestinian security prisoners said Sunday they were continuing to refuse food despite the recent agreement between Israel and the inmates to end the hunger strike in Israeli prisons.

Mahmoud Sarsak said he has been on hunger strike for the past 80 days, while Akram Al-Rikhawy has been fasting for 59 days.

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The two prisoners sent a letter to the Ramallah-based Addameer Human Rights Association in which they appealed to the Palestinian Authority leadership and Hamas to intervene to save their lives.

The two men said they were being treated at a the Ramle Prison hospital and that they were determined to continue with their hunger strike until they are freed.

Under the terms of last month's Egyptian-brokered agreement, Israel said it would ease restrictions imposed on security prisoners and end solitary confinement. The Palestinians say that Israel also promised to stop administrative detentions.

Sarsak, 22, of the Gaza Strip, is a soccer player with the Palestinian National Team. He was arrested by the IDF in 2009, when he arrived at the Erez border crossing on his way to the West Bank.

He has since been held in administrative detention.

A lawyer representing Addameer met with Sarsak last week and reported that he was in "grave condition." Rikhawy, who is also from the Gaza Strip, was arrested in 2004 and sentenced to nine years in prison for security-related offenses.

He has since been held in the prison hospital as he suffers from a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, asthma and osteoporosis, according to Addameer.

Issa Qaraqi, the PA Minister for Prisoners Affairs, voiced concern over the deteriorating health of the two prisoners and called for their immediate release.

He said that Sarsak was protesting against his continued detention without trial, while Rikhawy was protesting against the Israeli court's refusal to shorten his term for health reasons.

Qaraqi said that thousands of Palestinian prisoners were now threatening to renew their hunger strike in protest against continued administrative detentions "and other measures taken by prison authorities." Qaraqi told reporters in Ramallah that conditions in Israeli prisons were "very harsh" and accused Israel of violating the recent agreement that ended the hunger strike.

He claimed that Israel has placed 30 Palestinians under administrative detention since the agreement. He also claim that sick inmates were being denied proper medical treatment.

According to figures released Sunday by Palestinian human rights organizations, there are 4600 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including 302 who are being held in administrative detention.

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