Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons intend to launch a hunger strike starting next week in response to policies pushed by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Supreme Emergency Committee for Palestinian Prisoners announced on Sunday.
"The ignorant extremist Ben-Gvir appears before us with a new decision that harms our most sacred sanctities by reducing visits to our families to once every two months, thinking that we may surrender or tire in the face of his aggression and arrogance," said the emergency committee.
The committee announced that the prisoners would launch a hunger strike starting on September 14.
"We demand an end to all decisions and policies taken in order to restrict us and the conditions of our lives, as well as the return of all that was robbed of our rights during the past period."
The committee referenced disagreements between Ben-Gvir and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the decision concerning visits to prisoners, stating "this is neither an acknowledgment by them of this right nor an acknowledgment of this achievement, but rather a dispute over the timing and mechanism for taking it."
"This aggression requires us, the prisoners, and our people, to stand up to it and prepare for this real confrontation with an enemy lurking around us."
The announcement of the hunger strike came after Ben-Gvir announced on Friday that the visits by families of prisoners will be limited to once every two months instead of once per month.
Ben-Gvir stated that Israel Prison Service directives dictate that the visits should only take place once every two months and the practice to allow monthly visits goes against those directives.
"On my watch, terrorists who murdered and harmed Jews will not receive extra perks. That's what we were elected for and that's what we'll do," said Ben-Gvir.
Despite the minister's announcement, Netanyahu's office stated that "reports" about a decision to limit visits to prisoners were "fake news."
"No decision has been made and no such decision will be made, until a special discussion on the issue planned by Netanyahu for next week with all security bodies is held," said Netanyahu's office.
Zaher Jabareen, a member of Hamas in charge of the terrorist movement's Martyrs, Wounded, and Prisoners Bureau, expressed support for the planned hunger strike, stating "The open war on the prisoners through criminal Zionist government decisions will not break their will, nor will it affect their morale. The enemy will face lions in the prisons who will not accept injustice and will not surrender to the occupation’s decisions and the withdrawal of achievements. They will resist with everything they have, with their eyes on Al-Aqsa and near freedom."
"We support the brave prisoners, and affirm that our entire people stands by their side in the battle for freedom and the expected escalation against the occupation prison administration after they announced an open hunger strike for the middle of this month, following the Zionist decision to reduce visits to prisoners as part of a series of violations against them. We are confident in the ability of our prisoners to achieve victory over this enemy and to force them to submit to their legitimate rights and restore their stolen achievements."
Tensions continue to escalate between Hamas and Israel
The tensions in Israeli prisons come amid continued concerns of an escalation between Israel and Hamas in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Lebanon.
Egyptian sources familiar with mediation efforts between the Palestinian factions and the Israeli government told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that "The American administration has been strongly involved, over the past few days, in contacts with several regional parties, led by Egypt, to prevent the outbreak of a comprehensive confrontation during the current period, in light of American-Israeli fears of an Iranian role in that confrontation, should it break out.”
The sources added that Egypt has placed pressure on Israel not to strike Hamas leaders, but has also informed Hamas that there are "serious" plans to target the movement's leaders in Lebanon, especially Saleh al-Arouri, who is responsible for much of the movement's operations in the West Bank.
The sources added that the US and Egypt have been pressuring Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to stop terrorist attacks in the West Bank, as there are signs of intentional attempts to escalate the situation on the Lebanese border.
The Israeli defense establishment is preparing for the possibility of an escalation from the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon during the High Holiday period which begins with Rosh Hashanah on September 15, KAN news reported on Friday.