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Relatives of Palestinian prisoners in Salfit undertake solidarity hunger strikes

April 18, 2017 9:07 P.M. (Updated: April 19, 2017 11:26 P.M.)
SALFIT (Ma'an) -- In the occupied West Bank district of Salfit, family members of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons launched a hunger strike on Tuesday in solidarity with their relatives currently on a mass hunger strike that began on Monday.

The family members have said that they would continue the strike as long as their relatives are refusing food.

Ayman Muhammad Bani Nimra, the mother of imprisoned Palestinian Nabil Bani Nimra from Salfit city, told Ma’an at a solidarity tent erected for the hunger strikers that she had started refusing food and “would not stop unless our children in the (Israeli) occupation’s prisons end their hunger strike and see improvements in their conditions.”

Meanwhile, Rimah Shawkat al-Khuffash, whose brother Haitham is also among the hunger strikers, urged all Palestinian citizens to support the hunger strikers, adding that she had also launched a hunger strike and would remain at the solidarity tent until the hunger strikers in Israeli prisons decided to end their strikes.

Issa Ishtayya, whose brother Said is on hunger strike, urged international organizations and human rights groups to support the hunger strikers and help them achieve their demands “before it's too late,” and highlighted the “disastrous” living conditions in Israeli prisons.

Nizar al-Daqrouq, the director of the Salfit office of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, also urged the Palestinian people to support the hunger strikers by visiting the solidarity tents, and “launching a popular uprising.”

He underscored that families of Palestinian prisoners would receive free medical checkups and medicine in the village of al-Zawiya on Wednesday, while a rally would also be organized in Salfit city to support the prisoners.

Palestinians from all the Salfit district planned to perform to coming Friday prayers near the Israeli “seam zone” -- isolated areas in the occupied Palestinian territory falling in between Israel’s separation wall and the Green line -- in the village of Deir Istiya.

On Saturday, a march will also be launched from the solidarity tent in Salfit to another tent erected in Kafr al-Dik.

Initially called for by Fatah-affiliated prisoners, Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum have since pledged their commitment to undertake the strike, which by some estimates exceeded 2,000 participants when it began at midnight on Monday. Official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Tuesday the strike was being carried out by some 1,500 prisoners.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement on Monday that Palestinians detained by Israel were “not political prisoners,” but “convicted terrorists and murderers,” claiming that “they are treated properly under international law.”

However, the hunger strikers have denounced the torture, ill-treatment, and medical neglect of Palestinian prisoners at the hands of Israeli authorities, as well as Israel’s widespread use of administrative detention -- internment without trial or charges -- which is only permitted under international law in extremely limited circumstances.

Earlier on Tuesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told Ma’an that Israel Prison Service (IPS) had suspended family visits for Palestinians involved in the hunger strike.

On Monday evening, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs released a statement saying that IPS officials had transferred a number of prisoners -- including Barghouthi and Karim Yunis -- into solitary confinement, confiscated hunger-striking prisoners’ personal belongings and clothes, and banned the prisoners from watching TV.

Meanwhile, according to the Committee of Prisoners' Affairs, IPS authorities established a field hospital in the Ktziot prison especially for hunger strikers, while simultaneously banning the future transfer of hunger strikers with deteriorated health conditions to any Israeli civilian hospitals -- which have so far refused to force feed hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners following an Israeli Supreme Court decision ruling that the measure was constitutional, in contravention of international medical ethics.

Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun warned that it was “highly possible” that Erdan’s field hospital proposal was “an attempt to impose mass force feeding on striking Palestinian prisoners outside the civilian medical framework."

Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to a joint statement released on Saturday by Palestinian organizations.
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