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Factions pledge to join Fatah-led 'Freedom and Dignity' prisoner hunger strike

April 16, 2017 4:32 P.M. (Updated: April 17, 2017 10:53 A.M.)
(File)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum have pledged to join a hunger strike led by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Bargouthi set to begin on Monday.

Prisoners affiliated to the Palestinian People's Party (PPP) announced they would undertake what has come to be known as the “Freedom and Dignity” strike, according to jailed PPP leader and member of the PPP Central Committee Bassem Khandaqji.

"After consultations with prisoners of various factions, PPP-affiliated prisoners decided to join the battle for freedom and dignity on April 17, which coincides with Palestinian Prisoner's Day." Khandaqji said in a statement.

The Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF) also said on Sunday that prisoners affiliated to the group would join the Fatah-led strike.

The PPSF statement went on to warn of a potential “serious escalation by Israeli authorities against prisoners after they launch the battle for freedom and dignity, which will mark a turning point in the life of Palestinian prisoners.” The group said it "urged the Palestinian people to organize actions to support the hunger strikers in their battle, both at popular and official levels."

Hamas meanwhile confirmed in an official statement on Sunday that prisoners affiliated to the movement held in Hadarim prison would join the strike.

The higher leading committee of Hamas-affiliated prisoners in Israeli custody said it “completely supports the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike, which an elite group of brave prisoners will start tomorrow in order to forcibly obtain our stolen rights.”

“We warn the Israel Prison Service against bringing any harm to the hunger strikers. Any delay in answering their just demands will explode the situation inside all prisons. All prisoners will unite in the face of all those who might harm prisoners and their dignity,” the Hamas statement said.

It was previously reported that all prisoners in Hadarim and Nafha prison would join, regardless of their political affiliation, including those affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad.

However, the left-wing PFLP later said that despite its “appreciation” for Barghouthi, it was not in fact undertaking the hunger strike, because it was organized by Fatah without coordinating with all other Palestinian political factions.

The Palestinian National Council (PNC), the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), meanwhile expressed its support for the strike on Sunday.

The PNC reaffirmed the right of Palestinian prisoners to fight "oppressive" Israeli policies, stating that “the prisoners' cause is a major element of Palestinian national struggle."

It also called on international bodies to hold Israeli authorities accountable to implement all conventions regulating prisoners’ rights, and to impose sanctions for violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
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