Israeli security officials fear that the death of any Palestinian prisoner as a result of the ongoing hunger strike, which has entered its 21st day, may lead to an eruption of violence in the territories, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Monday.
- Hamas warns Israel against hunger strike deaths
- IPS: Inmates' demands examined
- Shalit went on hunger strike in Hamas captivity
Some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners are protesting against the conditions of their incarceration, which were significantly worsened while Gilad Shalit was held captive by Hamas in Gaza. Among other things, the prisoners are demanding an end to solitary confinement, an end to administrative detentions and reinstating family visits from Gaza. They are also demanding that Israel allow them to take university courses and give them access to Arab TV channels.
The Israel Prison Service has agreed to give the prisoners some of their privileges back, but has not accepted their demand to end the administrative detention policy.
Bilal Diab, 27, who has been refusing food and medical attention for 70 days, was transferred to the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center last week after his condition deteriorated.
Khader Adnan, who was the first prisoner to launch a hunger strike, said "from our perspective, the hunger strike will be considered a success in any case, regardless of whether the prisoners' demands are met or if they die in prison."
Adnan, who refused food for more than two months, ended his strike after Israel agreed to release him from administrative detention.
"If they die, the victory will be even greater," he said. "In any case, Israel will be held responsible."
Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad threatened to resume its rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza should one of the prisoners die.
Ziad Abu Ein, Palestinian deputy minister of prisoners affairs, said the death of one of the Palestinian prisoners would trigger violence in the territories. According to him, the hunger strikers have called on Hamas' armed wing to kidnap soldiers in order to advance their release.
The northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel has called on its supporters to fast on Monday as an act of solidarity with the prisoners.