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Mother of 4 Palestinian prisoners, Syrian prisoner declare solidarity hunger strikes

April 19, 2017 4:56 P.M. (Updated: April 19, 2017 7:52 P.M.)
Latifa Muhammad Naji Abu Hmeid pictured with her four sons
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian mother of four prisoners began a hunger strike on Wednesday in solidarity with her sons, who entered the third day of the “Freedom and Dignity” hunger strike, which is taking place across Israeli prisons with an estimated 1,500 Palestinian prisoners participating.

Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe told Ma’an that Latifa Muhammad Naji Abu Hmeid, the mother of Nasr, Nasser, Mahmoud and Sharif Abu Hmeid from the al-Amari refugee camp started an open hunger strike to support her four sons who are participating in the mass hunger strike in protest of the lack of basic rights in Israeli prisons.

Meanwhile, a Syrian prisoner being held in Israeli prison declared on Wednesday that he would also be joining the strike in solidarity.

According to Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen news channel, Sidqi al-Maqt joined the strike on its third day, saying “I salute, from the heart of Israeli jails, the souls of all martyrs of Syria and Arab nations. The hunger pains in our empty stomachs are a battle towards the victory of our humanity and national dignity.”

Al-Maqt was released by Israeli authorities in August of 2012 after serving 27 years in Israeli prison, and was re-detained in February 2015.
Picture of imprisoned Syrian Sidqi al-Maqt held in Israeli custody

Under the banner of “Freedom and Dignity,” prisoners are demanding receiving regular visits, and are also calling for an end to deliberate medical negligence, solitary confinement, administrative detention, among a long list of other demands laid out by the Fatah movement and its imprisoned leader, Marwan Barghouthi.

Some 1,500 prisoners continued the strike that began on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, April 17th, with imprisoned Palestinian women in Israel’s Hasharon prison, where 58 women are held, launching protest measures in solidarity with the hunger strikers.

Lawyer from the committee Hiba Masalha said that the women would refuse meals every ten days, highlighting that their measures could escalate in the coming days if Israel does not respond the demands of the hunger strikers.

Since the hunger strike began, Israeli authorities have established field hospitals, Israel’s Public Security Minister has confirmed, for Palestinian prisoners. The move has raised alarm that hunger strikers, who will likely face deteriorating health conditions in coming days, will be force fed en masse -- violating international standards of medical ethics and international law that regard the practice as inhumane or even a form of torture.

In addition to punitive measures taken against the group of sick prisoners, IPS has punished the hundreds of other hungers strikers by suspending family visitation rights, preventing lawyers from visiting some hunger strikers, and moving hunger-striking prisoners around in its detention facilities in order to separate them from Palestinian prisoners who were not participating in the hunger strike.

Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to a joint statement released on Saturday by Palestinian organizations.

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