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Shia leader to fast for 3 days in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers

April 29, 2017 10:38 P.M. (Updated: April 29, 2017 10:38 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadir reportedly announced on Saturday that he would fast for three days in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike in Israeli prison for the past 13 days.

Russia’s state-run news network RT published a letter purportedly written by al-Sadir, addressed to “the free Palestinians in the darkness of the Israeli terrorist state prisons.”

Al-Sadir said that he wanted to express his solidarity with Palestinian prisoners and detainees languishing in prison cells "that hide the sun of freedom and mute the voice of righteousness."

"You, the people of the stone revolution, the knife revolution, and the prison revolution will be victorious, and we will triumph with you. May God be with you wherever you are," the letter reportedly said, referring to young Palestinians who throw rocks at Israeli forces as a form of protest against the Israeli occupation, and to a trend of small-scale knife attacks on Israeli forces that peaked in the Fall of 2015.

The mass open-ended hunger strike -- which has seen some 1,500 prisoners forgo food since April 17, out of a total of 6,300 Palestinians held by Israel -- has garnered widespread support in the occupied Palestinian territory and abroad.

Solidarity tents have been established across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, while Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces across the territory on Friday after Fatah called for a “Day of Rage” in support of the strike. Palestinian businesses and institutions also overwhelmingly observed a general strike on Thursday, marked by empty streets and shuttered storefronts throughout the occupied territory.

Demonstrations have also been organized in numerous cities internationally, and a social media campaign showing Palestinians drinking saltwater in solidarity with hunger strikers, whose only form of sustenance has been saltwater, has gone viral.

The Salt Water Challenge was reportedly started by Aarab Marwan Barghouthi, the son of imprisoned Fatah leader and coordinator of the mass hunger strike Marwan Barghouthi.

Among those he challenged was Arab Idol winner Muhammed Assaf, who said in a video: "I challenge everyone, all honorable people wherever they may be, to take on this challenge in solidarity with our heroic detainees until they gain their freedom.”

Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said Saturday that he invited English comedian and political satirist Mark Thomas to undertake the Salt Water Challenge.

According to the media committee for the hunger strike, Thomas is expected to accept the challenge at Yasser Arafat Square in the center of Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank on Sunday.
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