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Detainees from Ashkelon prison join hunger strike

Oct. 2, 2011 12:38 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 3, 2011 7:18 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Head of the Palestinian Detainees Center Qaddoura Fares said Sunday that 20 detainees in Ashkelon prison will join a hunger strike being carried out by prisoners in Israeli jails.

Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons are on hunger strike for the sixth consecutive day in protest against being forced into isolation cells and being deprived of family visits.

All detainees in Ashkelon prison will join the hunger strike by next Monday, Fares said in a statement.

Official news agency WAFA reported that prisoners at Israel's Ofer jail will join the strike for three days in the next week, before joining the total hunger strike, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

Palestinian human rights and prisoners group Addameer said on Sunday the original Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) strikers had been joined by Hamas prisoners in Ramon, Eshe, Nafha and Ashkelon prisons, with Fatah-affiliated detainees also taking part in Ashkelon.

Factions will meet in the Negev and Ofer jails on Tuesday to discuss broadening participation, an Addameer release said.

The prisoners support body said that on Saturday and Sunday the Israeli Prison Service had transferred PFLP prisoners and confiscated salt-water sustaining the strikers in the Negev prison, in response to the action.

Popular Front officials say the Israeli prison administration has isolated a number of Palestinian detainees who are on hunger strike and forbade the prisoners in Ashkelon jail from going outside for the daily break.

In the Negev prison, 56 PFLP detainees joined the hunger strike and a number of ill participants also refused medication in a bold stand in solidarity with the strike. In Ofer prison, 10 detainees joined the strike, the officials said.

Director of the Abu Jihad center for prisoners affairs at al-Quds university Fahd Abu al-Hajj said Sunday that the 3,000 or so prisoners would not end the hunger strike until their demands were met, primarily an end to the policy of solitary confinement in Israeli jails.

Al-Hajj noted that there had been a recent escalation in policies against prisoners "which the right wing Israeli government started since it came to power in an attempt to exert more pressure on the Palestinian leadership to achieve political gains," a statement said.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoners Issa Qaraqe announced plans to support the prisoners, saying the authorities would hold sit-ins and marches in all Palestinian cities.

Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Muhammad Hussein on Sunday called on Palestinian officials and communities to support detainees in their demands.

According to latest reports from the Palestinian Authority 6,000 Palestinians are being detained in Israeli prisons, including 219 in Administrative Detention who are held without charge.
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