PA to march for hunger-striking prisoners

PA Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqi urges Palestinians to hold rallies and marches in support of the prisoners.

Ramallah prisoner demonstration 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Ramallah prisoner demonstration 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Palestinian Authority has declared Wednesday as a day of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have been on hunger strike for the past two weeks.
PA Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqi urged Palestinians to hold rallies and marches in support of the prisoners.
Qaraqi expressed fear for the lives of some of the prisoners who have refused food.
He claimed that Ahmed Sa’- dat, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is in critical condition because of the hunger strike.
Sa’dat was convicted for his role in the October 2001 assassination of tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi in Jerusalem.
A meeting between representatives of the prisoners and heads of the Prisons Service on Tuesday ended without reaching an agreement on ending the hunger strike, Qaraqi said.
On Tuesday, families of Palestinian prisoners demonstrated in several places in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in support of their sons.
The striking prisoners are protesting against a series of new measures imposed by the Prisons Service, especially the decision to place some of them in solitary confinement.
The decision to toughen the conditions of the Palestinian inmates was taken by the government as a means of pressure to secure the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been in the Gaza Strip since 2006.
Kadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, a group that represents the security prisoners in Israel, called for a two-hour commercial strike in the Palestinian territories on Wednesday in solidarity with the striking inmates.
The PA Foreign Ministry has also sent letters to many governments around the world asking them to intervene with Israel to “stop the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners,” Fares said.
At the request of the PA, Arab League foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the conditions of the prisoners and ways of applying pressure on Israel to accept their demands.
Hamas, meanwhile, called on armed Palestinian groups to kidnap more IDF soldiers so that they could be traded for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
Ahmed Bahar, deputy speaker of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council, told a rally in support of the striking prisoners outside the Red Cross offices in Gaza City that the abduction of IDF soldiers was the only way to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners.
“The Zionist entity understands only the language of force,” Bahar said.