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Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners transferred to civilian hospitals, field clinics

May 22, 2017 9:43 P.M. (Updated: May 23, 2017 12:23 P.M.)
Freedom and Dignity strike: Some of Palestine's most high-profile prisoners. From left to right: Fouad Shubaki, Nael Barghouthi, Karim Yunis, Ahmad Saadat, Marwan Barghouthi
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A number of Palestinian prisoners who entered their 36th day of mass hunger strike on Monday have been transferred to civilian hospitals, as Israeli authorities also moved tens of prisoners into prison field clinics, according to the media committee formed to support the hunger strikers.

Some 1,300 hunger-striking 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.

Prisoners continue to be transferred to hospitals, field clinics

Hebrew media sites reported that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) transferred 70 hunger-striking prisoners to a number of Israeli civilian hospitals due to a “serious deterioration” in their health conditions.

Sites said that the 70 prisoners were transferred to the Assaf Harofeh, Soroka, Barzilai, Hamek and Beilinson hospitals in Israel.

An IPS spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, the hunger strike media committee reported that a number of hunger-striking prisoners held in central Israel’s Ramla prison were evacuated to hospitals inside Israel.

The committee quoted lawyer Ehab al-Ghalith, who visited prisoners Hafith Sharayaa and Mansour Fawaqa, as saying that hunger strikers were showing “dangerous symptoms,” such as losing consciousness repeatedly, nausea, vomiting, severe head and limb pains, low blood pressure, low heart rates, and weight loss of at least 15 kilograms.

The two prisoners told al-Ghalith that at least 72 hunger-strikers were being held in Ramla, in “despotic and disastrous conditions.”

In a separate statement,the media committee said that IPS officials in southern Israel’s Ashkelon prison were planning on moving all hunger-striking prisoners to the prison’s field clinic by the end of the day on Monday.

A lawyer of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs visited hunger-striking prisoners in Ashkelon prison on Monday, and reported that the health conditions of the hunger strikers were worsening, highlighting that a number of them have stopped consuming water.

The lawyer quoted prisoners as saying that 45 of 60 prisoners on hunger strike have been “continuously fainting since Monday morning,” but confirmed that “they are still determined to continue the strike until their demands are met.”

The media committee highlighted that the prisons’ field clinics, which had been set up since the beginning of the strike, were not well equipped and lacked the basic amenities of civilian hospitals.

Additionally, prisoners have said that doctors who run the clinics have tried to "blackmail" prisoners into ending their strike, and have displayed a variety of foods across the field clinics.

Solidarity events continue in support of hunger strikers

In the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, tens of Palestinians gathered in Manger Square, outside the Nativity Church -- where US President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit on Tuesday -- and protested the president’s visit as they expressed solidarity with the hunger-striking prisoners.

“We came to tell you that the one who decides the fate of Palestinian people are the Palestinian refugee camps and not the Americans, the cause of the camps is the cause of all Palestinians,” one protester shouted, as dozens others gathered around him.

“The fate of Jerusalem can't be decided by Trump, for Jerusalem is Arab; Jerusalem is Palestinian, and we decide its fate, not the Americans. The only ones who supported Palestinian people are the heroic prisoners, they are strugglers, fighting with only their bodies,” the man said.

Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) organized a crowded march in Gaza City, with protesters holding signs in support of prisoners and shouting slogans condemning IPS’ refusal to negotiate with prisoners and the silence of the international community towards the strike.

DFLP leader in Gaza City Ahmad Saed gave a speech to the crowd, calling upon the international community and legal institutions “to stop being silent and start saving the lives of hunger-striking prisoners,” as well as on all Palestinians to continue participating in solidarity marches and sit-ins.

Meanwhile, Fadwa Barghouthi, member of the Fatah revolutionary council and wife of Marwan Barghouthi, the Fatah official leading the hunger strike, participated in a sit-in on Monday along with a number Palestinian mothers of hunger-striking prisoners, inside the shrine of late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.

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