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Official: 1,600 prisoners to go on hunger strike

April 14, 2012 9:42 P.M. (Updated: April 17, 2012 10:59 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Over 1,600 detainees in Israeli jails are due to begin a hunger-strike on April 17, a Palestinian Authority official said Saturday.

Issa Qaraqe, the PA prisoners affairs minister, added that factional division among the strikers is dangerous and called on detainees with different political allegiances to unite.

There was reportedly a disagreement between imprisoned Fatah and Hamas members as to which date would be best to carry out the strike action.

Some Fatah officials believe beginning strike action on the same date as Palestinian Prisoners Day may weaken the prisoners position in negotiations with Israeli authorities.

Prisoner society chief Qadura Fares played down political division among prisoners, labeling any disagreement a matter of different points of view.

Mohammad al-Qatari, an official in the Prisoners Ministry in Gaza, suggested that strike action be postponed until May 10 in case negotiations with Israeli prison authorities proved to be negative.

Palestinian Prisoners Day is commemorated on April 17.

A series of high-profile hunger strikes have drawn international attention to Israel's policy of detaining Palestinians without charge, which has been applied to thousands of Palestinians since 1967.

Around 300 Palestinians are currently held in administrative detention in Israel, including around 20 MPs.
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