If Israel does not respond to the Palestinian hunger strikers' demands the situation on the ground could deteriorate into a Third Intifada, Haaretz warned in its editorial yesterday.
The paper said: "The hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners entered its 35th day on Sunday. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan hasn't tried to resolve the strike through negotiations with the prisoners over their demands. Instead he has tried to break the strikers and end the action by force. Erdan has been threatening to force-feed the strikers."
If the government doesn't quickly come to its senses and find a way to deal with the strike, hundreds of prisoners could die… Force-feeding is an indecent practice that violates medical ethics. Some people view it as torture in every respect.
The editorial warned that solidarity protests which are being held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have now become more active as the condition of the hunger strikers becomes more critical.
"Until very recently, support for the strike on the Palestinian street has been expressed through demonstrations and protest marches. Now when there is increasing concern over lives lost, attempts to express solidarity with the prisoners have taken on a violent cast in the form of a general civil protest."
This is evidenced by the fact that since Wednesday, clashes between Palestinian citizens and army forces took place in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Haaretz explained.
"The clashes are exceptional in the number of places they have occurred, the number of people who have taken part and the number of casualties."
Lessons should be learnt from the past, the editorial explained, and Israel should not wait for "needless deaths… or an overall escalation" before taking action and negotiating with the prisoners over their "minor" demands.
"Most of their demands are minor, relating only to the conditions of their imprisonment."
Is it in Israel's interest to descend into a third intifada instead of listening to the prisoners?
Some 1,500 Palestinian prisoners began a mass hunger strike to protest against their detention conditions on 17 April.