Hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel launch hunger strike

However, Israeli security officials believe that the real reason Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah leader who is now serving five consecutive life sentences, announced the strike is to show that he still holds considerable political power in the Palestinian world.

In 2011, Israel swapped more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier who had been held by Hamas for five years.

Abbas greeted the 6500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails as they mark the Palestinian Prisoner's Day, stressing that he is doing all he can to secure their release and end their suffering.

Palestinian prisoners have launched one of the biggest hunger strikes in recent years in a protest against prison conditions.

The statement noted that 500 inmates were being incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention, which is a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge. Palestine views the inmates as political prisoners, while Israel has charged them with attacking nationals and other grave offences. When he was barely 18, he in turn was arrested and spent four years in Israeli prisons. Prisoners have so far declared strikes in eight different Israeli prisons. Prisoners are also demanding better medical care and extended visits with family.

The op-ed, titled "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel's Prisons", was penned by Marwan Barghouti and appeared both online and in the print edition of the International New York Times.

He condemned what he called Israel's intransigence in the face of "fair" prisoner demands.

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Opinion polls indicate that Barghouti enjoys widespread support in his quest to replace Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

He stated that the number of the prisoners who died in Israeli jails has increased to 210.

Graffiti showing the iconic image of his cuffed hands raised above his head flashing a peace sign while being led away by Israeli authorities can be seen in the West Bank.

Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence.

The last large-scale hunger strike was in February 2013, when 3,000 Palestinians refused to eat for one day to protest against the death of a fellow detainee.

Ashkar affirmed that the Israeli occupation forces escalated at the beginning of 2017 the arrest campaigns against the Palestinian MPs raising the number of those kidnapped to 13, eight of whom are held under administrative detention.

Israeli public radio reported that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan had described the demands as "unreasonable".

  • Adam Floyd