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Prisoners threaten new hunger strike if poor conditions persist

February 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm

The Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs in the Palestinian Authority, Issa Qaraqe, has revealed that the Palestinian prisoners still in Israeli prisons are threatening a new hunger strike if the situation inside the jails continues, with ongoing administrative detention, frequent raids and intrusive inspections, and other violations of prisoners’ rights.

“The conditions inside the detention centres are tough,” said Qaraqe in a press statement, “not least because the prison authorities have not fulfilled their agreement which led to the end of the previous hunger strike.” Administrative detention, he pointed out, has been used against even more prisoners and certain privileges have been denied to the ex-hunger strikers, such as use of prison canteens. Medical negligence also remains a problem, he added, especially in Ramla Prison “which might as well be called Ramla Tomb”.

According to the Minister, more than 1,000 prisoners are suffering from various diseases, including 18 who have chronic and malignant conditions. This is due, he said, to the situation in Israeli prisons, the poor food and the lack of specialised medical treatment. Doctors, he alleged, face difficulties when they try to enter Israeli prisons with the necessary equipment and medicines to treat their patients.

“The Ministry, in cooperation with other relevant authorities which deal with prisoners’ affairs, is launching a local and international campaign for the release of all prisoners who are ill,” said Qaraqe.

He also mentioned that international footballer Mahmoud Sarsak has entered the 80th day of his hunger strike and his health is now in a very serious state; he is subject to frequent blackouts. Qaraqe confirmed that the Palestinian international, who was arrested in 2009, has rejected an Israeli offer to deport him to Norway; he is insisting on being released in Gaza, where he was born and where he has lived all of his life.

The Minister also drew attention to prisoner Akram Al-Richawi, who has been on strike for more than 54 days, despite suffering from several illnesses, in protest against the refusal of the Israelis to commute his sentence on compassionate grounds due to his ill health.