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Supporters of prisoner hunger strike call on Palestinians to boycott municipal elections

May 10, 2017 11:06 P.M. (Updated: May 11, 2017 2:01 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- The committee of Palestinian prisoners’ families in the Nablus district called on Wednesday for Palestinians to boycott upcoming municipal elections in solidarity with the estimated 1,600 hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli custody.

Elsewhere across the occupied Palestinian territory, supporters of the hunger strikers, who entered the 24th day of their strike on Wednesday, organized a number of actions to show their backing of the prisoner movement.

Nagham al-Khayat, the wife of hunger-striking prisoner Yasser Abu Bakr, called on Palestinian society to escalate its support of prisoners on the ground, and demanded that the Palestinian Authority (PA) assume its responsibilities vis-a-vis the prisoners currently forgoing food to obtain basic rights.

“We are not against elections, but we have demanded that they be postponed until after the end of the prisoners’ hunger strike, to no avail,” al-Khayat said. “Today we demand that all those who still have a conscience boycott local elections on Saturday for the dignity of Palestinian prisoners.”

Al-Khayat also called on Fatah, the ruling party of the PA, to show its support of Marwan Barghouthi, the leader of the hunger strike movement, noting that the Fatah Central Committee had not commented until then on Israeli attempts to smear Barghouthi, notably by claiming that he had secretly been breaking his hunger strike.

Meanwhile, the media committee of the hunger strike announced that church bells would ring and mosques would broadcast takbir -- “God is great” -- at noon on Thursday in the occupied Palestinian territory in a show of solidarity with the hunger strikers.

In the southern occupied West Bank, the municipality of Hebron sent letters to its 20 sister cities around the world detailing the difficult circumstances in which Palestinian prisoners were detained in Israeli custody, as well as the suppressive measures used against the hunger strikers by Israeli prison authorities.

Hebron municipality head Nader al-Bitar said that the city was conducting numerous efforts to support the prisoners, notably by calling on the foreign municipalities partnered with Hebron to urge their respective governments to exert pressure on Israel.

IPS has imposed a range of repressive measures in an attempt to quash the hunger strike, including solitary confinement, arbitrary prisoner transfers, nightly cell raids, lawyer and family visitation bans, and the confiscation of personal belongings including salt -- the only nutrient hunger strikers have been consuming except for water.

Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to Palestinian organizations.

According to prisoners' rights organization Addameer, some 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of April.
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