BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) denied on Monday reports that its imprisoned members would participate in a mass open hunger strike organized by the Fatah movement.
, reports emerged that Fatah-affiliated Palestinian prisoners were planning a mass hunger strike for April 17 -- Palestinian Prisoners’ Day -- and that scores of prisoners affiliated to the PFLP, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad movement had announced that they would join the strike.
While the PFLP expressed its appreciation of imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, who is leading the strike, it said that because the hunger strike had been declared by the Fatah movement without coordinating with all other Palestinian political factions, the left-wing party had decided not to participate.
The PFLP added that a mass hunger strike should be a strategic national step organized with all political factions to mark a united front.
The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs had said on Saturday that, in addition to the 430 Fatah-affiliated prisoners held at Gilboa prison, some 70 PFLP and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) prisoners at Gilboa would also join the strike, while all 120 Palestinian prisoners in Hadarim prison of all political affiliations had also decided to participate.
It remained unclear whether other factions were in fact participating in the strike.
On Thursday, Fatah called on the Palestinian public and activists around the world to support them in their upcoming hunger strike.
The statement said that the decision to carry out a mass strike came in response to the “brutal and inhumane” treatment of Palestinian prisoners by Israeli authorities, and the denial of regular family visitation.
Israel’s use of solitary confinement on Palestinian prisoners, “provocative and humiliating” search methods, the poor quality of prison food, Israeli-imposed fines, collective punishment, the lack of accessible education, the banning of clothes entering the prison, restrictions on religious rituals, “deliberate” medical neglect, and other Israeli violations were cited in the statement as a driver for deciding to stage the mass hunger strike.
A 2012 agreement which ended a similar hunger strike involving some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners was meant to end Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without trial or charge, but some 536 Palestinians remain held under administrative detention, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer.
According to Addameer, 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of January, including 53 women and 300 children.