Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails begin hunger strike

President Mahmoud Abbas Monday called on the global community to save the life of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who started an open-ended hunger strike.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are now detained by Israel for a range of offences and alleged crimes, and for many Palestinians the prisons themselves have become a stark symbol of Israel's occupation.

Some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have chose to take part in this hunger strike, which begins today, the day we observe here as Prisoners' Day.

Israeli prison service spokesperson Assaf Librati said that 700 prisoners had announced on Sunday their intention to begin a hunger strike. In 2014, dozens of detainees who were being held without trial or charges staged a two-month-long hunger strike to demand their release.

In Fatah's most recent conference, held in November, Barghouti was elected to the Fatah Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council, pulling in more votes than any other candidate.

Among the demands from Barghouti and the prisoners are the resumption of a second monthly visit by family members (a benefit that was cancelled by the International Committee of the Red Cross due to budget cuts), the prevention of family meetings being cancelled for security reasons, and the restoration of academic studies and matriculation exams to prisoners.

The NGO Palestinian Prisoners' Club said 1,500 people were taking part.

Barghouti further accuses Israel of "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions, writing that "Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence".

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Marwan Barghouti, a high-profile prisoner who enjoys broad support among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, called for the "Freedom and Dignity" strike.

The prisoners also demand to have periodic medical checkups and to increase the number of visits by the International Red Cross.

"Instead of saying to him - as a responsible newspaper should - that if he doesn't have a shred of evidence to support his stories then they can't be published, The New York Times published them in its opinion pages and didn't even bother to explain to its readers that the author is a convicted murderer of the worst kind", Lapid wrote.

He added that hundreds of detainees intend to join the strike in the coming few days.

Ashkar affirmed that the Israeli occupation forces escalated at the beginning of 2017 the arrest campaigns against the Palestinian MPs raising the number of those kidnapped to 13, eight of whom are held under administrative detention.

The Israel Prison Service threatened to punish the hunger strikers.

Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed three years ago.

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