Pope Francis should intervene to help hunger striking Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails "before it is too late", the wife of senior Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi has said.
Fadwa Barghouthi has called on the pope to "speak up, because freedom and dignity are God given rights and no human group should deprive another of these rights."
Your call for respect of the rights of the Palestinian people, including the rights of our political prisoners, would allow the voice of those placed in isolation to reach the world. The Israeli courts are instruments of oppression not justice, especially Israeli military courts with their conviction rate of 90 per cent to 99 per cent for Palestinians.
A hunger strike is being led by Barghouthi, who is serving five life sentences for his role in the second Palestinian Intifada. It began on 17 April, which marks Palestinian Prisoners' Day. More than 1,600 prisoners are taking part in the strike.
Lawyer Khader Shkirat said Israeli authorities yesterday cancelled his scheduled prison visit with Barghouthi, who is currently in solitary confinement. The Israel Prison Service initially informed him he could visit the 58-year-old today but was told abruptly the meeting was cancelled.
Over 6,500 Palestinians are currently detained by Israel.