Hamas prisoners announce one-day hunger strike

After PM's decision to deprive prisoners of certain privileges, Hamas spokesman says hunger strike will be followed by other steps.

Hamas terrorists 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas terrorists 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas members held in Israeli jails are planning a one-day hunger strike for Monday in protest against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to deprive them of certain privileges, the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip announced on Sunday.
The hunger strike will be followed by other steps if the prison authorities don’t stop their new measures, Riyad al-Ashqar, spokesman for the Hamas-run Ministry for Prisoners Affairs, said.
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Monday’s hunger strike was also being held to demand an end to the solitary confinement of Yehya al-Sinwar, a top Hamas leader who is allegedly in poor health, Ashqar said.
The spokesman claimed that in recent days prison authorities have stepped up their “fierce onslaught” against prisoner leaders, especially those belonging to Hamas, placing some of them in solitary confinement.
Also, the authorities have moved several prisoners to other prisons, separating them from their friends, the spokesman added.
The ministry called on the Palestinian groups holding IDF soldier Gilad Schalit in Gaza to stick to their demands and not to make any compromises for a prisoner swap with Israel.
“The decision to put pressure on [Hamas] prisoners is an expression of clear failure and bankruptcy,” the ministry said.
It also urged Palestinians to support the prisoners’ protests.
Also on Sunday, the Gazabased Center for Prisoners and Human Rights called on those holding Schalit to increase their demands, arguing that Israel would eventually succumb and reach a prisoner exchange deal.
Fuad al-Khaffash, director of the center, said the groups holding Schalit “should stick by their demands and announce, in the wake of Netanyahu’s intransigence, that they are being forced to change their conditions and ask for more.”
He said that this was the least that could be done in light of Netanyahu’s recent decision to worsen the conditions of the Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails.
Khaffash said that the kidnapping of Schalit five years ago has raised hopes among prisoners and their families that a prisoner swap is possible.
“The most suitable option for releasing prisoners is by taking soldiers as prisoners, and not through negotiations,” he said.
Hamas’s success in holding on to Schalit for such a long time is the “biggest victory for the resistance,” he added.
Meanwhile, several human rights organizations called on Hamas to end the illegal treatment of Schalit. “Hamas authorities must immediately end the cruel and inhuman treatment of Gilad Schalit, enable him to communicate with his family and grant him access to the International Committee of the Red Cross,” the groups said in a statement.
The statement was signed by Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Human Rights Watch, Public Committee Against Torture, Physicians for Human Rights, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (Gaza), The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Yesh Din: Volunteers for Human Rights and the International Federation for Human Rights.