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Israelis hold barbecue outside prison holding hunger-striking Palestinians

April 20, 2017 6:30 P.M. (Updated: April 24, 2017 4:08 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Members of Israel's National Union held a barbecue on Thursday in front Israel’s Ofer prison, where Palestinian prisoners have entered the fourth day of a mass hunger strike.

The right-wing nationalist group said they wanted to “celebrate the hunger strike,” and to break the will of the Palestinian hunger strikers by cooking barbecue so that the smells would enter the prison cells, according to Hebrew-language media.

Local Palestinian Ibrahim Ikhmayes told Ma’an that the behavior of the Israelis was “stupid and ridiculous,” adding that it would not affect the Palestinian prisoners’ determination, but would strengthen their resolve.

He added that the smell of barbecue would evoke the feeling of hunger among the Palestinian prisoners, but it would not deter their hunger strike aimed at gaining their dignity in Israeli prisons.

More than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody launched an open-ended mass hunger strike on Monday morning on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, led by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, under the banner of "Freedom and Dignity" for prisoners. As of Tuesday, the estimated number of participating prisoners was 1,500.

The hunger strikers have denounced the torture, ill treatment, and medical neglect of Palestinian prisoners at the hands of Israeli authorities, as well as Israel’s widespread use of administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges -- which is only permitted under international law in extremely limited circumstances.

Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to a joint statement released on Saturday by Palestinian organizations.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the barbecue was organized by Israel’s right-wing National Religious Party, typically known by its Hebrew name “Mafdal,” which dissolved as a formal political party in 2008. Ma'an regrets the error.
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