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Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Nafha prison to join upcoming mass hunger strike

April 12, 2017 1:47 P.M. (Updated: April 12, 2017 10:22 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian prisoners being held inside Israel’s Nafha prison have announced that they will be joining an upcoming mass hunger strike on Monday April 17, Sawt al-Asra (Voice of Prisoners) Radio reported on Wednesday.

The prisoners -- who are being held in Sections 3, 4, 10, 13 and 14 of Nafha prison -- are affiliated with the Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) movements.

All Fatah-affiliated prisoners had already committed to joining the strike, led by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, scheduled to begin on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.

In a statement given to Sawt al-Asra, the Nafha prisoners urged all other Palestinians held in Israeli prisons to join the hunger strike "until their humanitarian demands are met." Prisoners stressed in their statement that “the battle” would be a step for Palestinian prisoners towards "regaining their rights and dignity."

“We shall gain our dignity and rights by facing the arrogance of the occupier with our empty stomachs, armed by the justness of our cause and popular support,” a statement by Fatah prisoners shared by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) read on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, head of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe called on all Palestinian factions in Israeli prisons to join the strike, amidst conflicting reports over whether or not prisoners affiliated to other political factions would join as well

After the hunger strike was announced, an Israel Prison Service official reportedly said that they would not respond to any of the prisoners’ demands, while Israel TV reported that Israeli security has expressed fear of a “collapse in security conditions” in prisons during the strike.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan ordered for the establishment of a military hospital to ensure that hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners were not transferred to civilian hospitals -- which have so far refused to force feed hunger striking Palestinian prisoners.

While the Israeli Supreme Court recently decided force feeding hunger-striking prisoners was constitutional, Israeli doctors have sided with internationally accepted medical ethics that regard the practice as a form of torture.

Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun warned that it was “highly possible” that Erdan’s field hospital proposal was “an attempt to impose mass force feeding on striking Palestinian prisoners outside of the civilian medical framework.”

Last month, Barghouthi and participating Palestinian prisoners called on the Palestinian public and activists around the world to support them in their upcoming strike, which includes a list of demands such as ending “provocative and humiliating” searches of prisoners, terminating medical negligence inside prisons, and ensuring regular family visits.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons as of January, 65 percent of whom are affiliated with the Fatah movement, the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs reported.
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