The new participants in the strike, which entered its 18th day on Friday morning, included the planner of the 2001 assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi and Secretary-General of the Popular Front movement Ahmad Sa'adat.
Moreover, Abbas al-Sayyid, the architect of the Passover massacre in which a suicide bomber killed 30 civilians and wounded 140 in the Park Hotel in Netanyahu during a Passover seder, also joined the strike.
Hassan Salama was another one of the heavyweight terrorists responsible for spilling the blood of dozens of Israelis who joined the strike. Between 1995-1996, Salama was one of the leaders of the military arm of Hamas, and was responsible for a wave of suicide attacks following the assassination of Yahya Ayyash, the terror movement’s chief bombmaker and the leader of the West Bank battalion of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigade.
Two of the attacks coordinated by Salama included the deadly bombings on the number 18 bus in Jerusalem and one carried out at the Ashkelon Junction in February 1996. Together, these attacks caused the death of 46 Israelis and injured around 100. In total, Salama was given to ten life sentences for the deaths of 67 Israelis.
The hunger strike, which is being led by Marwan Barghouti, suffered a blow to its momentum recently when dozens of strikers quit in two separate waves. The first batch of quitters came after less than a week of the strike’s commencement, with 100 prisoners dropping out and another 84 the following week.
With the onset of the strike Barghouti was placed in solitary confinement, as was Sa’adat when he joined the strike.
As things stand, the health of the striking prisoners is not in jeopardy, however the prison services are taking no risks. To that end, the Metzada unit, the Israel Prison Service (IPS), are on high alert near secrity and detention facilities ready to treat anyone whose life is endangered by their self-inflicted starvation.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), instructed the IPS to enter into negotiations with the prisoners’ leadership, and ordered that that punitive measures be dished out to the strikers.
The main fear facing the IPS in the hunger strike however, which has yet to materialize, is that medical staff will be forced to determine that the the strikers lives are in danger.
In an effort to avoid this situation from arising, which would require prisoners’ evacuation to civilian hospitals, the IPS has installed four hospitalization facilities in four different prisons, each one containing between 60–80 beds.
More desperate contingency plans are also being mooted by the ministry, which include possibly force-feeding prisoners in such a scenario.
However, as a result of opposition from the Israel Medical Association to participate or provide assistance in such a measure, the ministry is weighing the option of bringing doctors from abroad who are prepared to perform the task.