Head of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe has called on all Palestinian factions in Israeli prisons to join an upcoming mass hunger strike, which was originally called for by the Fatah movement.
All Fatah-affiliated prisoners have committed to joining the strike, led by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, and which is scheduled to begin on Monday on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.
Qaraqe said that Fatah-affiliated prisoners comprise 65 per cent of all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there are a total of 6,500 Palestinian prisoners currently incarcerated by Israel.
The committee’s statement said that Qaraqe called for all factions to join, in order to solidify a “genuine national unity to confront the procedures and practices of the administration of prisons and the government of Israel.”
After the hunger strike was announced, an Israel Prison Service official reportedly said that they would not respond to any of the prisoners’ demands, while Israel TV reported that Israeli security has expressed fear of a “collapse in security conditions” in prisons during the strike.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan ordered for a military hospital be established to ensure that hunger striking Palestinian prisoners were not transferred to civilian hospitals – which have so far refused to force feed hunger striking Palestinian prisoners.
While the Israeli Supreme Court recently decided force feeding hunger striking prisoners was constitutional, Israeli doctors have sided with internationally accepted medical ethics that regard the practice as a form of torture.
Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun warned that it was “highly possible” that Erdan’s field hospital proposal “is an attempt to impose mass force feeding on striking Palestinian prisoners outside the civilian medical framework.”
Prisoners are protesting against their detention conditions which are overcrowded and lack access to basic amenities which has led to the spread of disease. In addition to this, they are calling for family visits to be allowed and for prisoners to have access to the necessary medical care.