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Medical groups implore international community to intervene in hunger strike

May 17, 2017 6:46 P.M. (Updated: May 17, 2017 6:47 P.M.)
JERICHO (Ma’an) – Palestinian doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nursing, and medical laboratory unions, as well as the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Jericho, released a joint letter on Wednesday demanding that international health organizations intervene to “save the lives of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.”

The Jericho-based groups read the letter in a speech at a solidarity sit-in in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) building in central Jericho on Wednesday, warning that, as the mass hunger strike enters its 31st day, Israeli authorities were expected to started force feeding some 1,300 Palestinian prisoners on strike.

“As we appreciate the role of the Red Cross as an international organization that protects civilian lives, we demand it urgently and immediately intervene to save the lives of prisoners and protect them,” said Palestine Doctors Association member Doctor Bashar Ahmad, reading the letter.

Ahmad stressed that the lives of prisoners “are facing real danger that requires urgent medical intervention, especially due to the dangers of force feeding.”

“Israel is fully responsible for the health condition of prisoners and for medical negligence,” Ahmad said, adding that Palestinians from across the political spectrum should “stand behind the prisoners’ fight as they are defending the Palestinian people’s dignity and freedom.”

Hunger-striking prisoners are 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.

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.

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