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Dozens of PFLP members join Fatah-led hunger strike, praise factional unity

April 18, 2017 7:30 P.M. (Updated: April 19, 2017 11:22 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Dozens of prisoners affiliated to the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have joined a mass open-ended hunger strike in Israeli prisons led by the Fatah movement, as the leftist faction “applauded the prisoners' movement for being unified as they fight this battle.”

The PFLP had initially stated it would not join the strike, expressing frustration that it was organized by Fatah without coordinating with all other Palestinian political factions.

However, as prisoners from across the political spectrum decided to undertake the strike -- including prisoners affiliated to Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian People's Party, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- the PFLP reversed their position.

On Monday, an official statement on its website released a “preliminary” list of 52 PFLP hunger strikers held in the Gilboa, Hadarim, and Nafha prisons, led by senior leader of the PFLP’s prison branch Kamil Abu Hanish, who entered his 15th year in Israeli prison days ago.

“The strike aims to improve (prisoners’) conditions in the occupation prisons, recover the stolen rights of the prisoners, and put an end to the ongoing violations of the Zionist prison administration as part of its systematic efforts to break the will of the prisoners,” the statement said.

On Tuesday, the PFLP website called for support for "our brave prisoners in Israeli occupation's jails," who joined what has come to be known as the Freedom and Dignity strike, and “applauded the prisoners' movement for being unified as they fight this battle.”

The fact that dozens of PFLP-affiliated prisoners, most notably Hanish, pledged their participation, would provide a much-needed boost to the action, the statement said, which highlighted that more of its affiliates would join the hunger strike in different prisons in coming days.

The PFLP also denounced the Israel Prison Service (IPS) for punitive measures imposed on Palestinian prisoners, especially those on hunger strike.

Since the hunger strike launched just after midnight Monday morning, IPS has punished hunger strikers by transferring some to different prisons, suspending family visitations, confiscating bedding and personal belongings, and placing a number of prisoners in isolation -- including Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi.
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