The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs demanded that Palestinian prisoners who entered their 28th day on hunger strike in Israeli prisons on Sunday be hospitalised, as their health continued to decline.
Committee head Issa Qaraqe said in statement that hunger strikers urgently needed be taken to hospitals for treatment, under the medical supervision of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) doctors.
Qaraqe said that Israeli authorities’ refusal to hospitalise the prisoners, choosing instead to continue holding them in solitary confinement under “inhumane conditions,” represented a violation of international law.
He condemned the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) for its indifference to the lives of hunger-striking prisoners as their health steadily declined, and slammed IPS for its “continued failure to respond to the prisoners’ fair demands and its refusal to engage in negotiations with leaders of the hunger strike.”
The Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike have been calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – among other demands for basic rights.
Qaraqe called upon the ICRC to issue a detailed report about the prisoners’ healths and to immediately undertake measures to protect hunger strikers from continued mistreatment and abuse at the hands of IPS authorities.
Hunger strikers have been punished by being placed in filthy solitary confinement cells and have also faced physical assault, psychological torture, confiscation of their personal belongings and drinking water, among other humiliating and violent measures since some 1,500 prisoners began refusing meals on April 17.
As of Friday, a reported 1,300 Palestinians were still participating in the strike, according to Qaraqe.
Qaraqe also called upon the ICRC to pressure Israel to respond to the prisoners’ demands, stressing that the responsibility fell on ICRC in its capacity as a humanitarian organization to ensure humane treatment for prisoners in accordance to international human rights standards.
The ICRC has been the target of sustained frustration for its perceived inability to improve incarceration conditions in Israeli prisons, as it prioritizes maintaining its role as an “impartial humanitarian mediator,” and faced anger last year when it reduced the number of monthly visits it facilitates for relatives of Palestinian prisoners.
Qaraqe concluded his statement by offering his condolences to the family of 23-year-old Saba Abu Ubeid, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces Friday after clashes broke out during a march in support of Palestinians on the mass hunger strike.