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On eve of Ramadan, some hunger strikers announce plans to fast during holy month

May 26, 2017 5:29 P.M. (Updated: May 29, 2017 6:36 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) -- As 1,300 Palestinian prisoners entered their 40th day of mass hunger strike on Friday -- the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan -- some hunger strikers are planning on participating in the holy ritual of fasting daily from dawn to sundown, despite the rapidly deteriorating health conditions of hundreds of prisoners.

A leader of the hunger strike in Hadarim prison, Nasser Abu Srour, said on Friday that hunger-striking prisoners in Hadarim  -- who, like all hunger strikers, have been consuming only a mixture of salt and water since April 17 -- will not consume any water from dawn until sundown during Ramadan, which begins Friday evening.

Abu Srour said that the health conditions of prisoners were deteriorating day by day, and that all hunger-striking prisoners in Hadarim had been taken to Israeli hospitals over the past week for medical tests.

He added that prisoners who were transferred to the Meir Hospital in central Israel complained of inhumane and mistreatment by the hospital and doctors.

“Despite these bad conditions, prisoners have high spirits and will continue the strike until their demands are achieved, or until martyrdom,” Abu Srour said.

Meanwhile, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said in a statement on Friday that the health condition of imprisoned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Ahmad Saadat, and prisoners Ahed Ghalmeh and Muhammad al-Qiq have seriously deteriorated, with all three vomiting blood.

The three have been held in Israel’s Ohalei Kedar prison, where conditions were becoming increasingly unhygienic, hunger-striking prisoners have reported, in an effort by prison authorities to break the prisoners' will to go on with the movement.

A hunger-striking prisoner told the committee on Wednesday that prisoners had been given worn out and dirty covers, that their cells were infected with bugs, and that hunger strikers who had been transferred to Ohalei Kedar after May 16 had not been allowed to change clothes or underwear.

In Friday’s statement, Qaraqe said that the prisoners had raised their initial demands to being acknowledged as prisoners of war, and to be transferred to prisons inside occupied Palestinian territory, as Israel has continued to refuse responding to their list of demands for basic rights.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) released a statement Thursday, saying “from a medical perspective we are entering a critical phase,” and that “we are concerned about potentially irreversible health consequences.”

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