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Hamdallah visits sit-in in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners

July 24, 2016 7:39 P.M. (Updated: July 24, 2016 10:26 P.M.)
Hamdallah talking to mother of hunger-striking prisoners Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul (MaanImages)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Sunday joined a sit-in in front of Bethlehem’s Nativity Church in the southern occupied West Bank, organized by activists showing solidarity for the dozens of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli custody.

Bethlehem Governor Jibrin al-Bakri accompanied Hamdallah during the visit.

Hamdallah told families of prisoners and solidarity activists that his government and the Palestinian president “have always treated the prisoners issue as a top priority,” Muhammad Hamida, who heads a Bethlehem-based prisoners’ rights group, told Ma’an.

Hamida added that he told Hamdallah and his delegation that both governmental and popular work was needed in order to help hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli custody.

Several local and foreign delegations have visited the sit-in tent in the past few days to show solidarity, including a delegation of 200 people from different European countries, and an official delegation from Saudi Arabia.

The tent was installed on Thursday to call attention to the dozens of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners protesting the Israeli policy of administrative detention -- internment without charge or trial under undisclosed evidence.

Member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Bilal Kayid entered his 40th day without food on Saturday, in one of the most high-profile hunger strikes against administrative detention since Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq came near death during a 94-day hunger strike before he was finally released in May.

Brothers Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul, Malik Salah al-Qadi, and Ayyad Jamal al-Hireimi, all from Bethlehem, have also declared open-ended hunger strikes.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were being held by Israel as of May, 715 of whom were held in administrative detention.

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