Palestinian prisoners walk in the Megiddo prison yard in November 2005. (AFP/ Menahem Kahana, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Fatah-affiliated Palestinians held in Israeli prisons released a statement on Thursday calling on the Palestinian public and activists around the world to support them in their upcoming mass hunger strike planned for April 17.
The movement said the strike would continue until the prisoners’ demands, which include improving the conditions of their detentions in Israeli prison and ending punitive policies and fines imposed by Israeli authorities, were met.
The prisoners stressed in their statement that it was “urgent” that their cause becomes an Arab and an international one, instead of only being supported on the local and national level.
On April 17, the open hunger strike will be launched, the statement explained, initiated and led by Fatah leader and member of the group’s central committee Marwan Barghouti.
The prisoners will also refuse to cooperate with Israel Prison Service's (IPS) “arbitrary rules” that “violate human rights and international agreements.”
The statement pointed out that the decision to carry out a mass hunger strike came in response to Palestinian prisoners being physically abused and treated “brutally and inhumanely,” while prisoners have been banned from receiving visits or being in contact with their families.
Israel’s often condemned use of solitary confinement on Palestinian prisoners, “provocative and humiliating” search methods, the poor quality of prison food, Israeli-imposed fines, collective punishment, the lack of accessible education, the banning of clothes entering prisons, restrictions on religious rituals, “deliberate” medical neglect, and other Israeli violations were cited in the statement as a driver for deciding to stage the mass hunger strike.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of January, including 53 women and 300 children.