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Barghouthi: Prisoners united behind hunger strikers

May 7, 2012 10:25 A.M. (Updated: May 8, 2012 1:58 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi said Sunday that Palestinian prisoners would remain united to support detainees on hunger-strike.

Prisoners affiliated to different political factions and in prisons across Israel all support the hunger strikers, who are "fighting a battle for freedom and dignity," the Fatah leader said in a letter received by Ma'an.

Commenting on negotiating with Israeli prison authorities, Barghouthi said that the hunger strike committee is the only body authorized to take decisions on behalf of the strike action.

The committee consists of Abdul-Rahim Abu Holy, Alaa Abu Jazar and Nasser Abu Hmeid from Fatah, Jumaa Tayih and Zeid Bseiso from Islamic Jihad, Jamal al-Hur, Muhannad Shreim and Mahmoud Shreitih from Hamas, Ahid Abu Ghilmi from the PFLP and Osamah Abu al-Asal representing the DFLP.

Prisoners in Israel's Nafha prison said Sunday that the Israeli response to strike demands has so far been inadequate, adding that they would escalate action by chanting "Allah Akbar" and banging on prison cell doors.

"We have been on hunger strike for 20 days under the banner of either we live in dignity or die," prisoners in the Negev jail said in a letter received by Ma'an.

On April 17, Palestinian prisoners day, over 1,000 prisoners joined a group of hunger-strikers protesting detention without charge. Around 2,000 are now taking part in the strike, prisoners rights groups estimate.

Islamic Jihad leader Mohammad al-Hindi warned Sunday that the death of any hunger-striking prisoner will start the third intifada.

The issue of prisoners is highly emotive in Palestinian society, where an estimated 40 percent of men in the occupied territories have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.
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