Some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners entered their 20th day of a mass hunger strike demanding humane treatment in Israeli prisons and an end to Israel's policy of imprisoning Palestinians without charge or trial, as more Palestinian prisoners have joined the strike, while Israel Prison Service (IPS) has continued cracking down on the hunger strikers.
According to the Media Committee of the Freedom and Dignity Strike – a joint committee formed by the Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) and Palestinian Committee for Prisoners' Affairs, five more Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Ofer prison joined the hunger strike on Friday. The committee said that 21 Palestinian prisoners also joined the hunger strike on Thursday after IPS transferred five Fatah-affiliated hunger-striking prisoners to solitary confinement.
Meanwhile, the the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Gregory III Laham declared a solidarity hunger strike for Saturday in support of the prisoners. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs released a statement on Saturday, outlining Israeli violations and policies against the hunger strikers, which they listed as:
- Group and solitary confinement under inhumane and brutal conditions.
- Continuous transfers during daytime and nighttime between prisons and confinements.
- Assaulting the prisoners by beating them during raids on cells and sections.
- Intensive search raids that include police dogs during daytime and nighttime and strip-searching prisoners.
- Preventing prisoners in solitary confinement from seeing sunlight or going out to the prison's yard.
- Confiscating salt from hunger-striking prisoners, in addition to their personal belongings.
- Restricting lawyers' visits and banning family visits to hunger strikers.
- Spreading rumors to break the will of the hunger strikers.
- Keeping hunger strikers under difficult and bad conditions in the cells.
- Imposing sanctions on hunger strikers, including fines, visit bans, and other punishments.
- Providing hunger-striking prisoners with used sheets and covers that are dirty and not providing enough covers for all prisoners.
Before the strike was launched, Israel's Channel 2 reported Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan ordered for the establishment of a military hospital 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.