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Islamic Jihad and PFLP prisoners to start protest over incarceration conditions

March 30, 2016 7:23 P.M. (Updated: March 30, 2016 8:18 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian prisoners affiliated with the Islamic Jihad movement and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in the Israeli prisons of Rimon, Nafha, Eshel, Ofer, and Ktziot declared Wednesday that they would be staging protests until their demands were answered.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said that the prisoners were demanding an end to the use of solitary confinement, that prisoners be permitted to receive family visits, and that overcrowding issues in the Nafha and Ofer prisons be resolved.

PPS said that the prisoners’ protest agenda would commence by refusing three meals this coming Sunday, three more meals the following Wednesday, then refusing three meals for three days the following week, and later preparing for a comprehensive strike.

The announcement comes after five Palestinians held in Israeli prisons declared on Saturday their hunger strike in protest of solitary confinement and Israel’s policy of administrative detention.

Islamic Jihad-affiliated detainees held in Israeli prisons initially announced their intention to protest on March 6 in a statement noting that at least 16 prisoners were currently held in solitary confinement, including Islamic Jihad-affiliated prisoner Nahar al-Saadi, who has been in Israeli custody since 2003 and in solitary confinement since 2013.

In January, Palestinian supporters of the PFLP threatened to launch an in-prison protest in support of PFLP-affiliated prisoner Bilal Kayid, who at the time had been kept in solitary confinement for more than five months in a “bottleneck, putrid cell without ventilation, light or proper winter blankets.”

The PFLP’s statement warned of their plan to gradually refuse meals, and eventually launch a mass hunger strike if Kayid, who has served more than 14 years in Israeli custody, was not released from solitary confinement.

In a 2011 statement, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture called for a world-wide "absolute prohibition" of solitary confinement in excess of 15 days, adding that "scientific studies have established that some lasting mental damage is caused after a few days of social isolation."

A report released this month by Physicians for Human Rights - Israel revealed that placements in solitary confinement in Israel’s prisons doubled from 2012 to 2014.

The group has previously said that the "unequivocal position of Physicians for Human Rights is that solitary confinement should not be used at all" in national security detention.

Rights groups have long criticized Israel for mistreatment of Palestinians in Israeli jails, as well as the illegality of their imprisonment. Prisoners' rights organization Addameer has documented extensive use of both solitary confinement and isolation by Israel's prison service, under circumstances the group says were violations of international law.

According to prisoners' rights organization Addameer, at least 7,000 Palestinians were currently being held prisoner by Israel.

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