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Talks fail between Israeli Prison Service and Palestinian prisoners

Aug. 11, 2015 11:29 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 12, 2015 10:27 A.M.)
Palestinian men take part in a demonstration in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on June 6, 2014 in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. (AFP/Musa Al-Shaer, File)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A fresh round of talks between the Palestinian prisoners and the Israeli Prison Service to end a campaign of disobedience in Israel's Rimon and Nafha prisons failed on Tuesday, a prisoners' center told Ma'an.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Center for Studies said that IPS officials met with leaders inside Nafha after tensions came to a head Monday when hundreds of prisoners declared a campaign of disobedience.

IPS reportedly said Tuesday afternoon that a decision to impose restrictions on prisoners was a political one, not made by IPS authorities, but they offered to lift all the restrictions after six months.

The offer was refused by prisoners who demanded that restrictions be lifted immediately, the prisoners' center said in a statement.

The center added that as the situation remained tense in Nafha, detainees across other prisons were carrying out acts of disobedience in solidarity with the campaign.

Tuesday's meeting was the latest development in Israel's southern prisons, which have seen chaos in recent days.

Last week, nearly 200 prisoners began hunger strikes to protest their treatment at the hands of the IPS.

Around 120 Fatah-affiliated prisoners agreed to temporarily suspend their strikes following talks with the IPS on Monday.

However, around 560 prisoners then declared a campaign of disobedience to protest conditions inside of the jails, according to the Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs.

The PA committee said that the move came following incursions into their rooms by the Israeli Prison Service, sanctions imposed on hunger strikers, and the denial of regular family visits to prisoners, among other restrictions.

The prisoners said the campaign would continue until the end of August, at which point the prisoners are expected to announce an open-ended hunger strike.

"Disobedience" by prisoners includes a boycott of domestic work, daily roll-call, security checks and prison clinics that don't provide necessary services.

The nearly 6,000 Palestinians currently held in Israeli jails are subject to notoriously brutal mistreatment that has been condemned by Palestinian leadership and the international community.

Last month the Israeli Knesset passed a law that allows the force-feeding of Palestinian detainees on hunger strike, despite opposition members arguing the practice as "cruel, dangerous and unnecessary."

"No hunger-striking prisoner has ever died in the State of Israel, but 50 prisoners who were force-fed did die. This law kills, and it permits things that are prohibited according to international norms," left-wing Knesset member Dov Khenin said at the time.

The Israeli Medical Association described the move as "tantamount to torture."

The continuation of Monday's campaign is accompanied by mounting fears around the potential use of force-feeding on Palestinian prisoner Mohammad Allan who is reportedly nearing 60 days of hunger strike.

President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said "huge" efforts were being made to save Allan's life and support other prisoners. The leader praised the prisoners for defending Palestinian pride.

Allan, who has been held without trial or charge since November, has been on hunger strike for at least 56 days, although the exact length is unclear.

Earlier on Tuesday, dozens of activists stormed the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in occupied East Jerusalem demanding that the organization send a permanent representative to the medical center where Allan is being held to prevent possible attempts to force feed him.
spb / usa
it sounded like gaza war. why reach and agreement now when the prisoners can get exactly the same agreement 6 months from now? let them go back on hunger strike
12/08/2015 10:27
Brian Cohen / Israel
No word of conditions in Pal prisons. Why? Because unlike Israeli prisons the ICRC is not allowed in to see the torture chambers and investigate disappeared prisoners from Hamas jails. The world is blind to Palestinian crimes against Palestinians.
12/08/2015 12:36
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