Palestinians in Israeli prisons begin hunger strike

As far as the Israeli government is concerned, there will be no talks with the approximately 1,187 Palestinian prisoners engaged in a hunger strike since Monday.

"Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost", Barghouti wrote.

Protests were also held in Palestinian cities in connection with Prisoners Day, including one in Bethlehem that led to clashes with Israeli forces.

Barghouti, a prominent leader in PA leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, called the strike, but in a show of unity it has been joined by prisoners from other Palestinian parties.

"The New York Times has provided a platform to a terrorist without noting the fact that he planned and carried out the cold blooded murder of Jews simply for having been Jews", she said.

Qadoura Fares, an advocate for prisoners' rights, said 6,500 Palestinians are now held by Israel. According to Palestinian media reports, Zomlot spoke with Michael Ratney, the diplomat now in charge of the Israeli-Palestinian file at the State Department, about the reasons for the hunger strike and the demands raised by the prisoner leaders.

"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". The initial description of him at the end of the op-ed reads, "Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian".

Roughly 6,500 Palestinian prisoners are now languishing in Israeli prisons, according to Palestinian figures.

The strikers also want better medical treatment and that disabled inmates or those suffering chronic illness be freed, access to more television channels and more phone contact with relatives and more family visits.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the decision to publish the propaganda "seriously undermines" the paper's credibility.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are now in Israeli jails.

More hardline still was the reaction by Israel's intelligence and transportation minister, who tweeted that Barghouti should have been executed after his conviction for murder in 2004 in an Israeli court. However, Palestinians from the West Bank need an entry permit into Israel and Israeli authorities often deny such permits.

Opponents of that law, including the Israel Medical Association (IMA), say that force-feeding is a form of torture and have called on doctors not to agree to force-feed prisoners.

"The unity of prisoners in occupation prisons will leave the Palestinian street unified behind them", said the head of the Palestinian Prisoners society in Hebron, Amjad Najjar.



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