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Committee: Prisoners still suffering from health consequences of 40-day hunger strike

June 11, 2017 7:56 P.M. (Updated: June 12, 2017 1:34 P.M.)
(File)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Two weeks after hundreds of Palestinian prisoners ended a grueling 40-day hunger strike to denounce incarceration conditions in Israeli custody, many of the participants were still suffering from serious health consequences as a result, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said on Sunday.

Committee head Issa Qaraqe said that a number of prisoners were suffering physical deterioration such as brain damage and vision problems since the strike.

The committee also mentioned that one of the former hunger-strikers was suffering from serious psychological issues since the strike, including insomnia and hallucinations.

Qaraqe held the Israel Prison Service (IPS) responsible for the health of Palestinian prisoners, noting that the suppressive measures used by guards to discourage hunger strikers -- such as withholding salt and water, the only two nutrients consumed during the strike, or basic hygiene products -- had contributed to the detainees’ continued physical and psychological suffering.

Qaraqe called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to follow up on the prisoners’ healths and monitor their well-being.

The medical neglect of Palestinian prisoners was a central issue during the recent hunger strike, which also included demands 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.

The hunger strike reportedly resulted in a number of agreements being reached between Palestinian prisoners and Israeli authorities, including an agreement to gather all female Palestinian prisoners in HaSharon.

Since the end of the strike, however, the committee has stated that the mistreatment of Palestinian inmates was still ongoing, whereas a prisoner’s relatives claimed that he had since been subjected to an arbitrary prison transfer as punishment for his leading role in the strike.
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