Palestinian officials said Tuesday that around 2,000 prisoners held by Israel have joined a hunger strike demanding better conditions behind bars.
Kadoura Fares, who heads a prisoners' rights group, said that the prisoners joined the strike overnight Tuesday, in addition to some 200 security prisoners who declared a hunger strike nearly two weeks ago.
- Palestinian inmates to get whole chickens
Fares says the prisoners were seeking an end to the solitary confinement of 20 imprisoned leaders. They are also demanding that Israel allow prisoners to take university courses and give them access to Arab TV channels.
Israel decided to revoke those privileges in June, coinciding with the fifth anniversary for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit capture bu Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Palestinian prisoners' rights would be curbed until Shalit was released.
The Israel Prison Service said that the numbers are exaggerated and only 240 prisoners have been striking.
Last week, as the more prisoners joined the hunger strike, Hamas released a statement saying it "holds Israel fully responsible for the lives and safety of the prisoners," adding that it was "Israel’s abuses against those held in Israeli prisons that has inspired the hunger strike."
A second statement by Hamas’ Change and Reform parliamentary bloc said that the hunger strike was "evidence of the cruelty faced by the prisoners in the Israeli prisons," as well as "an expression of the strength of the prisoners’ will power and defiance of the prison administrations."
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