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Jerusalemites organize sit-in in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners

May 11, 2017 1:59 P.M. (Updated: May 11, 2017 4:20 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) and Palestinian Prisoners’ Families Committee in Jerusalem organized on Wednesday a sit-in protest in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, in front of the building of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

Families of prisoners spoke at the sit in, demanding international and legal organizations intervene “without any delay to achieve the demands of Palestinian prisoners,” who have been on mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons for 25 days as of Thursday.

Head of PPS in Jerusalem Nasser Qaws said at the sit-in that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) was “trying to spread rumors to break the will of prisoners and their families,” referring to a video released by IPS on Sunday purportedly showing Marwan Barghouthi, the Fatah leader who organized the strike, eating in his cell during the strike.

However, a committee formed to support the Palestinian hunger strikers quickly denounced the footage, calling the video’s release part of an Israeli “war of lies” to discredit the prisoner movement.

Qaws added that as the strike entered its fourth week, some prisoners have stopped consuming water, “leading them to go through very difficult and critical stage.”

Fatah official Hatem Abd al-Qadir spoke at the sit-in, saying that “our prisoners will not give up as they have sacrificed their freedom for our country,” while demanding the Palestinian Authority (PA) place the prisoners as a “top priority on their agenda.”

Several mothers of hunger-striking prisoners spoke at the sit-in, expressing their concerns for the health conditions of their children, and condemning IPS’ denial of visitation permits throughout the strike.

Some 1,600 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons have been participating in the strike, with prisoners reporting severe health deterioration -- including several hunger strikers coughing up blood -- and continued repressive measures imposed on the prisoners by IPS.

Palestinian prisoners are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention -- imprisonment without charge or trial -- among other demands for basic rights.

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