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PFLP members join open hunger strike at sit-in in front of ICRC office in Gaza

Aug. 8, 2016 9:30 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 9, 2016 3:13 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Members and leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) announced on Monday that they would begin open hunger strikes in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prisons.

The announcement was made at a sit-in in front of the office for International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza City, amid widespread protests over the organization’s recent decision to cut family visitations for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody, reducing arranged visits for male Palestinian prisoners from two days a month to just one.

More than 80 PFLP-affiliated prisoners have entered open hunger strikes in a mass movement first inspired by incarcerated PFLP member Bilal Kayid, who has gone more than 55 days without food, while imprisoned PFLP Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat also joined the hunger strike at the beginning of this month.

The sit-in was attended by PFLP members, the families of Palestinian prisoners, former prisoners, representatives from various Islamic and national parties, students’ associations, and women’s institutions.

“We are constantly being updated with every detail of the struggle PFLP-affiliated prisoners are facing in Israeli jails and we are willing to undertake any measure against these threats," PFLP central committee leader Allam Kaabe said at the sit-in.

He said that PFLP prisoners would continue the mass hunger strike until their demands were met, adding that there were new Palestinian prisoners of all political factions joining the open hunger strike every day.

Kaabe criticized the ICRC for its “dereliction” towards the Palestinian prisoners’ cause, especially in light of their decision to decrease family visitations.

He also said that the ICRC had been giving prisoners’ families misleading information about their conditions in Israeli custody. “These misleading and unfavorable procedures by the Red Cross makes us very suspicious about whether the organization should continue to be responsible for Palestinian prisoners issues.”

The sit-it was the latest event to be held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners hunger striking in protest of Israel’s widely condemned policy of administrative detention, used almost exclusively against Palestinians.

Palestinians have long accused Israel of using the policy in part to erode political and family life in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, by detaining scores of Palestinians without proof of wrongdoing, and targeting families of political prisoners.

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