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Palestinian leaders in Israel launch symbolic hunger strike in solidarity with prisoners

April 21, 2017 9:28 P.M. (Updated: April 24, 2017 7:17 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinians with Israeli citizenship declared a symbolic hunger strike on Friday until 5 p.m. in solidarity with hundreds of Palestinians now on their fifth day of a mass hunger strike during a demonstration in the Palestinian area of Arraba al-Battuf in northern Israel. 

A solidarity sit-in tent was erected in the town in a show of support for the hunger strikers. Head of the local follow-up committee and lawmaker Muhammad Barakeh, the mayor of Arraba al-Battuf Ali Asla, and several regional and local leaders attended the demonstration. 

Barakeh said that the sit-in was part of a solidarity program with Palestinian prisoners and that participants would be forgoing food until 5 p.m. on Friday in support of the hunger strikers, until they welcomed recently released Palestinian prisoner Lina Jarbouni, who was arrested in 2002 and sentenced by Israel to 17 years in prison. 

Mayor Ali Asla said that the solidarity sit-in was organized in order to welcome back Lina Jarbouni. He also stressed the importance of solidarity efforts to support the prisoners. 

Demonstrations were also held throughout the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, on Friday, with thousands of Palestinians participating in support of the hunger strikers. 

Initially called for by Fatah-affiliated prisoners, Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum have since pledged their commitment to undertake the strike, with the media committee of the “Freedom and Dignity” strike estimating on Tuesday that some 1,500 prisoners were forgoing food.

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.

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.

According to prisoners' rights organization Addameer, some 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of March.
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