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Abbas calls for world intervention to save hunger strikers

February 16, 2014 at 3:38 pm

President Mahmoud Abbas has called for international intervention to save the lives of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. The Palestinian Authority head said that the Israelis are ignoring the prisoners’ demands for improved conditions and an end to so-called administrative detention.

Speaking to Palestine TV on Tuesday, Abbas said, “We appeal to the world to consider the issue of the prisoners on hunger strike seriously and responsibly in order to save their lives. If they are allowed to die the situation will be uncontrollable and we will face collapse across all areas of Palestinian life.”

He pointed out that this is a serious, complex issue and that the prisoners are on hunger strike in protest at the use of administrative detention by the Israelis, which sees Palestinians held without charge or trial. The treatment of prisoners by Israeli officials is also a major concern.

“We sent a letter today to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, to intervene as fast as he can because the lives of the prisoners who are on hunger strike are in grave danger,” said Abbas. “We fear that their conditions will worsen and matters will get more complicated.” He added that he has also spoken to the US Consul General about the issue, and been in touch with several European states as well as heads of state at the recent Islamic Summit in Cairo.

Samer Al-Issawi has been refusing food for 204 days; he and three other prisoners are in a state of great distress. Mr. Al-Issawi was rearrested in Jerusalem on 25 May, 2012 after having been released in a prisoner exchange deal. He is in the clinic of Ramle Prison. Fellow hunger striker Tariq Akdan, from Jenin, was arrested without charge on 22 November, 2012, as was Jafar Ezzeddine, also from Jenin. Both men have been refusing food since 27 November and are also in Ramle Prison clinic.

Prisoner Ayman al-Sharawna, from Hebron, was arrested on 31 January, 2012. He was on hunger strike for 140 days before suspending it, only to restart the protest on 16 January this year. He is being held in solitary confinement in Beersheba Prison.