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EU calls for better conditions for Palestinians in Israeli jails

Feb. 16, 2013 8:02 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 23, 2013 1:57 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Reuters) -- The European Union on Saturday called on Israel to improve conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and a PA minister said there would be rallies next week to support hunger striking prisoners.

Nearly 5,000 Palestinians are jailed in Israel, including 178 administrative detainees, 10 women and 193 children, according to the latest figures from prisoner rights group Addameer.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement that she is "following with concern" the deteriorating health of four Palestinian inmates who are staging long-term hunger strikes in protest of their detention.

"The EU calls on the government of Israel to allow for the immediate restoration of their family visiting rights and calls for the full respect of international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian detainees and prisoners," she said.

A spokeswoman for Israel's Prisons Service said the four prisoners were in "good condition" and receiving medical treatment as needed, but they had lost the right to family visits when they began their protests.

Issa Qaraqe, PA minister for prisoner affairs, said public demonstrations to show solidarity with the group would be held all next week.

On Friday, hundreds of Palestinians protested across the West Bank in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike.

Protestors gathered outside Israel's Ofer jail, near Ramallah, in solidarity with Samer Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for 199 days, and Tareq Qaadan and Jaafar Azzidine who have refused food for 81 days.

Issawi, Qaadan and Azzidine are being held in administrative detention, without charge or trial.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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