April 23, 2017

Israel says won't negotiate with Palestinian hunger strikers

22 April 2017, 12:54 | Darnell Patrick

People hold banners during a rally in support of Palestinian prisoners in the West bank City of Bethlehem, Monday, April 17, 2017.

Barghouti was "instigating mutiny and leading the hunger strike and that is a severe violation of the rules of the prison", said Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

Palestinian prisoners have gone on a mass hunger strike to demand better conditions.

Barghouti is now serving five life sentences for having a prominent role in the second Palestinian intifada - a period of uprising against Israel between 2000 and 2005 that saw the deaths of 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis.

The strike also comes at a hard time for the Palestinian Authority, whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is aging and unpopular. The protests led to clashes with Israeli forces.

The New York Times apologized Monday for publishing an opinion piece by convicted terror leader Marwan Barghouti demonizing Israel and questioning its right to exist.

"We will not surrender to it", he wrote.

They also said that the Israeli authorities have declared a state of emergency in all prisons since the hunger strike started, Monday, under the pretext that the detainees "will not be able to walk or move to the visitation rooms and sections".

Prisoners' advocacy organisations like Addameer and the Palestinian Prisoners Club say that 1,500 prisoners are in poor health and receive little medical care. Palestinian officials and activists estimated the number of participants to be as many as 1,500.

"Israel is taking it seriously simply because of the possible consequences", said Ghassan Khatib, a professor at Birzeit University and a former Palestinian official.

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Israel has denied suggestions that Palestinian prisoners have been left in poor conditions.

A day before the strike began, Barghouti had described his personal experience in Israeli prisons, speaking of "inhumane" treatment and "humiliation" when explaining the reasoning behind the protest.

Erdan says the prisoners receive all privileges required by global law. He is one of the best-known among thousands of Palestinians jailed for charges ranging from stone-throwing and membership in groups outlawed by Israel, to attacks that wounded or killed Israelis.

For Palestinians, the prisons have become a stark symbol of Israel's occupation.

Other demands include periodic medical examination, visits by the International Red Cross, installing pay phones and air condition systems, allowing prisoners to keep books, newspapers, clothes, and food.

"Two days ago, I read an article in the New York Times, which depicts the multi-terrorist Barghouti as a 'parliamentary leader, '" Netanyahu said during Mimouna celebrations in Dimona.

"Through our hunger strike, we seek an end to these abuses".

Abbas made no mention of Barghouti in his statement on WAFA. If successful, the strike would be the largest in recent years.

He has not publicly designated a successor. Of those, 62 are women and 300 are minors.

Thirteen Palestinian lawmakers are also among the detainees.

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