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Photo: AFP
186 security prisoners quit hunger strike
One week after a hunger strike of almost 2,000 Palestinian security prisoners gets underway, cracks appear in participants’ determination to go the distance as a second batch of 84 prisoners drop out; Netanyahu: ‘We are leading determined and responsible policies in line with international norms and not in accordance with terrorist dictations.’
Momentum in a mass hunger strike launched by Palestinian security prisoners last week suffered a blow on Saturday when all of the 84 prisoners in the Hamas wing at Gilboa Prison, and two prisoners in Megiddo Prison, ceased to strike.

 

 

The break is the second to have taken place since the hunger strike got underway last week, with 100 prisoners reporting that they were dropping out just 24 hours after it began.

 

The latest sign of cracks forming in the unified protest, which is being led by Marwan Barghouti—a convicted terrorist—comes just days after 1,187 Palestinian security prisoners announced that they had begun the hunger strike.

 

Marwan Barghouti (Photo: AP)
Marwan Barghouti (Photo: AP)

 

Most of the prisoners who joined the strike hailed predominantly from Fatah and the Popular Front, with only a handful being members of Hamas.

 

The security prisoners resolved to stage the hunger strike after a series of demands submitted to the Israel Prison Service were rejected

 

The demands included a provision that the Prisons Service install public telephone wings, similar to those installed for criminal prisoners.

 

The second demand laid out by the prisoners was that Israel restore the procedure of two visits per month by prisoners' families.

 

Nine months ago, the Red Cross, which finances the transportation of family members on buses from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to prisons, reduced the number of family visits from twice a month to once. ostensibly due to financial problems.

 

The prisoners also demanded that visits be extended from 45 minutes to 90 minutes and that Israel not prevent immediate and extended family members with security-related offenses from visiting. Additionally, prisoners are also demanding that they be allowed to be photographed with their families once every three months.

 

The Israel Prison Service prepared for the hunger strike in advance as its leader Barghouti threatened its execution. Dozens of striking prisoners were transferred between wings and prisons in order to maintain order. Barghouti himself was moved from Hadarim Detention Center to the Kishon Detention Center.

 

With the signs that determination to go the distance with the hunger strike may be wavering, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the latest development, reiterating Israel’s determination to deal with the matter in accordance with international conventions.

 

Protests in the street amid threatened hunger strike (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Protests in the street amid threatened hunger strike (Photo: AFP)

 

“We are leading determined and responsible policies in line with international norms and not in accordance with terrorist dictations,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

 

Echoing the words he made during a recent interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, he also repeated his calls to the Palestinian Authority to cease its funding to terrorists in prison and their families, as well as to family members of terrorists who have attempted to carry out attacks, or been killed in the process.

 

“That is the simplest test for the Palestinians and their desire for peace. You cannot be for peace with Israel and at the same time glorify and fund murderers of Israelis and of other innocent people.”

 

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