[Marxism] BBC News Report: Palestinian Hunger Strike Gains Strength
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Wed Aug 18 09:49:11 MDT 2004
Palestinians have been protesting in support of prisoners
Hundreds more Palestinian prisoners have joined a four-day-old hunger strike,
Israeli prison officials say.
A total of 2,264 of 3,800 prisoners in jails run by the prison service were
now refusing their meals, prison service spokesman Ian Domnitz said.
The strike was declared on Sunday to protest against conditions for
Palestinians held by Israel.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has urged people to fast for one day in
solidarity with the striking prisoners.
The prisoners are demanding mandatory visiting rights, better sanitary
conditions, public telephones and an end to strip searches.
Israel has vowed not to give way, calling the protest a ploy to secure easier
communication between prisoners and militant allies waging an uprising
against Israeli occupation since 2000.
Mr Domnitz told the AFP news agency that the latest to join the protest
296 inmates at Shikma top-security jail, Ashkelon
196 inmates at Shaka jail, of Beit Shean.
The liquids-only protest has also been declared among the more than 4,000
Palestinian prisoners held detention camps run by the Israeli army, but the army
has not released any figures.
Mr Arafat said the Palestinian Authority had appealed for international
intervention to make Israel improve prisoners' conditions.
Reports do not make clear how many Palestinians have observed the call for a
one-day fast in solidarity.
Israeli prison authorities say they have not yet encountered any health
problems among the prisoners, but is monitoring the situation.
On Monday, officials said guards had been told to do everything possible to
tempt prisoners to break the fast by eating in front of them and grilling meat
near their cells.
About half of Israel's 7,500 Palestinian security-related prisoners are being
detained without charge or until the end of criminal proceedings against
Most of the remainder have been convicted by military courts operating in the
occupied West Bank and Gaza.
In June, the Public Defender's Office strongly criticised prison conditions
in Israeli prisons.
It found prisons overcrowded, violent and unsanitary, with many prisoners
having to eat and sleep on bare, dirty floors.
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