1,600 Palestinian prisoners to go on hunger strike

Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, DFLP, prisoners demanding end to Israel's administrative detention; Fatah prisoners yet to join strike.

Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Ketziot prison 311 (R) (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Ketziot prison 311 (R)
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
Some 1,600 Palestinians in Israeli prisons will go on an open-ended hunger strike starting April 17, the Palestinian Authority’s minister for prisoner affairs, Issa Qaraqi, announced Saturday.
The prisoners are demanding an end to administrative detentions and solitary confinement. They are also demanding that Israel permit visits by families from the Gaza Strip and cancel its decision to ban prisoners from engaging in academic studies and reading newspapers.
“The situation inside Israeli prisons has become very dangerous and serious,” Qaraqi told reporters in Ramallah after being informed by the prisoners of their decision to embark on the hunger strike. “The Israeli government is using the prisoners as a tool to retaliate against the Palestinian people and their leadership.”
The prisoners who will take part are affiliated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Fatah prisoners have yet to decide whether they want to join the hunger strike or not, said Fares Kadoura, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club in the West Bank. Kadoura expressed concern over the fact that the prisoners had been unable to reach a unanimous decision.
The Fatah prisoners suggested that the strike start on May 10 in order to give more time to negotiations with the Prisons Service.
Qaraqi urged the prisoners to unite, warning against divisions among the inmates as a result of various political affiliations.
“We won’t accept a situation where the prisoners are dragged into political or factional matters,” he said. “The prisoners must be united in their plans and struggle.”
The hunger strike is set to begin on what Palestinians call Prisoners Day.
Qaraqi urged Palestinians to participate in the day’s rallies and demonstrations in solidarity with the striking prisoners.
There was no immediate comment on the planned hunger strike from the Prisons Service.