Mashaal, Abbas discuss prisoner hunger strike

The 2 also discussed tactical strategy to emphasize hunger strike, prisoner issues on PR, diplomatic fronts.

PA President Abbas meets Hamas chief Mashaal in Qatar 390 R (photo credit: REUTERS/Thaer Ghanaim/PPO/Handout)
PA President Abbas meets Hamas chief Mashaal in Qatar 390 R
(photo credit: REUTERS/Thaer Ghanaim/PPO/Handout)
Khaled Mashaal and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke by telephone on Thursday about rallying Palestinians to support prisoners on their hunger strike protesting against certain Israeli prison policies, such as administrative detention, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Friday, citing a Hamas statement.
According to the statement, the call between Mashaal and Abbas focused on rallying grassroots Palestinian efforts to support the prisoners’ demands to end the practices of administrative detention and solitary confinement.
The two men also discussed tactical strategies for emphasizing prisoner issues and the open-ended hunger strike, dubbed the “battle of empty stomachs” by organizers, on the public relations and diplomatic fronts.
The start of the strike last week coincided with the release of Khader Adnan, a prisoner who refused food for 66 days before agreeing to a deal under which he was freed. Adnan is a member of Islamic Jihad.
The striking prisoners said they would drink only water and salt until their demands are met.
Prisoners said they were also protesting a government clampdown on prisoners’ privileges that started in 2011 that included preventing access to books, educational programs and new clothes; expanding solitary confinement; cutting back on family visits; and forcing detainees to meet their lawyers with their hands cuffed.
Security prisoners began enrolling in university in 1994 after a number of them launched a hunger strike demanding the same right to study as criminal prisoners, who have enjoyed that right since 1978. Since the Open University doesn’t require students to have a high school matriculation certificate, Palestinians can study without preparatory courses.
Israel has taken measures against some 1,200 Palestinian prisoners involved in the hunger strike, denying them family visits and separating them from inmates not taking part in the protest.
Yaakov Lappin and Reuters contributed to this report.