TEL AVIV, Israel (Kurdistan24) – Israeli authorities on Monday said hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are staging an open-ended hunger strike to protest poor prison conditions.
According to Israeli authorities, approximately 1,300 prisoners are participating in the strike across eight prisons.
Head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission Issa Qaraqe told local media the detainees were concerned over “grievances including medical negligence, administrative detention, and limited family visits.”
The strike was initiated by imprisoned Fatah party leader Marwan Barghouti, serving five life terms for his involvement in the murder of Israelis.
Barghouti, who has spent 15 years in an Israeli prison, recently wrote an op-ed for The New York Times outlining the reasons for the hunger strike.
“I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners,” he wrote.
“After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike,” he added.
Palestinian officials have urged the public to show support to the prisoners with rallies planned in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
Hanan Ashrawi, a top Palestinian official, called on the international community to end Israel’s “inhumane” treatment of Palestinian prisoners.
Ashrawi asserted the ill-treatment of detainees in Israeli prisons was in violation of the Geneva Convention.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Prison Service released a statement threatening to impose disciplinary measures against hunger-striking prisoners.
“Prisoners who decide to [hunger] strike will face serious consequences,” the statement read.
“Strikes and protests are illegal activities and will face unwavering penalization,” the Prison Service added.
There are over 6,500 Palestinians in Israeli jails, some held without charges or a trial, according to the prisoners’ Commission.
Editing by Gabrielle Renaud