Newsbrief: Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike

by Gabrielle Gleiman and Bryce Johnson
edited by Oliver Dorf

Over one thousand Palestinian prisoners participated in a hunger strike in Israel on Monday, according to the New York Times.

They demanded better conditions, such as more family visits, better access to education, better health care and an end to solitary confinement.

The hunger strike was led by Marwan Bargohoutti, a popular Palestinian detainee. He is viewed as a future Palestinian leader even though he is serving five life sentences as a leader of the second intifada and for directing attacks leading to the killing of Israelis.

Unconfirmed reports from Israeli and Palestinians news stated that Barghoutti had been placed in solitary confinement in another prison. The reports also stated that the reason for his transfer was the strike and smuggling out an essay that he had written.

(Photo: New York Times)

Barghoutti wrote, “Israel has established a dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid, that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalizing Palestinian presence and resistance.”

The protest grew in size throughout the day.

Ghassan Khatib, a professor at Birzeit University, said, “Israel is taking it seriously simply because of the possible consequences. The issue of prisoners is very emotional.”

The protest had been fueled by the fact that the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has become unpopular recently. Many are wanting him to be replaced and Barghoutti.

Israeli officials have not yet negotiated with the prisoners and said that the hunger strikes are illegal and all participants will be disciplined. Meanwhile, the director of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, Qadura Fares said that they would relent until their demands were met.

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