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DFLP-affiliated hunger strikers set to refuse water if Israel ignores demands

May 2, 2017 6:23 P.M. (Updated: May 2, 2017 9:31 P.M.)
Samer Issawi
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Samer Issawi, one of the some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike in Israeli prisons and a representative for hunger strikers affiliated with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), announced on Tuesday that DFLP-affiliated prisoners would begin refusing water on May 7 if the Israel Prison Service (IPS) continues to ignore the demands of the mass hunger strike.

Issawi, who rose to national prominence for carrying out a 266-day hunger strike in 2012 and 2013, said the decision was made in agreement with other hunger strikers. Unlike Issawi’s 266-day strike, where the imprisoned Palestinian consumed vitamins in order to stabilize his health, Palestinians on the current strike, including Issawi, are only consuming water and salt.

On Wednesday, a number of Palestinians held in solitary confinement in Israel’s Ramla prison also announced that they had begun refusing water. However, it was unclear if the prisoners have continued their refusal.

Issawi also stated that the DFLP held Israel and IPS responsible for the lives of hunger-striking prisoners, "who are now facing “real danger,” noting in particular the case of Hamzeh Dirbas who was transferred to Israel’s Ramla prison clinic after his health deteriorated from undertaking the hunger strike.

Issawi was sentenced by Israeli authorities to 30 years in prison during the second Intifada in 2002, and was released 10 years later as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. However, he was detained once again by Israeli authorities just a few months after his release, prompting him to launch one of the longest hunger strikes in history until he was released in December 2013.

In July 2014, Issawi was detained again during Israel’s “Operation Brother’s Keeper” -- a widescale detention campaign launched across the occupied Palestinian territory after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped in the West Bank. An Israeli court ordered Issawi to finish the remainder of his previous 20-year sentence in Israeli prison.

Meanwhile, former Lebanese President Salim Hoss announced he would take on a one-day solidarity hunger strike in support of the Palestinian prisoners on Tuesday.

Hoss’ councilor Rifaat Badawi said in a press release that Hoss’ action was more of a “message to Arab leaders and people” who are not supporting the Palestinian struggle, rather than a message about the Israeli occupation.

Some 1,500 political prisoners launched the open-ended hunger strike on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, April 17, under the aegis of imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, demanding of basic rights, such as an end to the policies of administrative detention, solitary confinement, and deliberate medical negligence.
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