Photo: Gil Yohanan
Marwan Barghouti
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Palestinian prisoners threaten hunger strike

Security prisoners from both Fatah and Hamas, lead by Marwan Barghouti, issue 13 demands to security officials, including access to phones and easing restrictions on family visits.

For the first time in years, thousands of Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails are threatening to initiate a mass hunger strike.



Security prisoners associated with both Fatah and Hamas are expected to take part in the strike, which is being led by Marwan Barghouti.


The strike is set to begin on Palestinian Prisoners' Day (April 17) and will coincide with rallies and demonstrations held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip meant to show solidarity with security prisoners incarcerated in Israel.


Marwan Barghouti in court (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
Marwan Barghouti in court (Photo: Reuters)


However, recent talks between prisoner representatives and Israeli security officials, headed by the Israel Prison Service (IPS), have been ongoing in an attempt to stop the strike before it begins. The sides have yet to come to an agreement.


Ynet has obtained a copy of the full list of demands prisoners sent to IPS officials. The list includes 13 demands, of which two are considered critical for Fatah prisoners.


Copy of note submitted to IPS officials by Palestinian prisoners
Copy of note submitted to IPS officials by Palestinian prisoners


The first central demand is that the IPS install public telephones in blocks, similar to the ones that exist in criminal facilities, so that prisoners may call their families.


Currently, the only way prisoners may contact their families by telephone is by limited access to prison phones and mobile phones illegally smuggled into facilities.


The second key demand also includes the Red Cross and family visits.


The demand first stipulates that prisoners want the international aid organization to restore a policy of two visits per month for prisoners' families. Nine months ago, the Red Cross decreased the number of visits per month for families to one, due to financial constraints.


The Red Cross finances a portion of travel expenses to bring prisoners' families from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to visit their relatives convicted of security offenses in Israeli prisons.


Palestinian security prisoners (Photo: Gadi Kablo) (Photo: Gadi Kablo)
Palestinian security prisoners (Photo: Gadi Kablo)


Second, prisoners are demanding 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.


A Palestinian official involved in the matter told Ynet that compromises and agreements can be made regarding the rest of the prisoners' demands, but the two central demands mentioned above are the most significant for prisoners.


"The prisoners suggested to the IPS that every prisoner be able to call one telephone number of a relative every two weeks for a specified time. They are also willing to accept the IPS monitoring the calls," said the official. "There is no reason why (PM Yitzhak Rabin's murderer) Yigal Amir, who is defined as a security prisoner, should be able to talk to his family and them not."


Palestinian sources close to Barghouti told Ynet that he is not eager to fight authorities, but according to them, he feels that he has no other option other than initiating a hunger strike.


Relations between Barghouti and Fatah leadership have been tense in recent weeks after he was not elected to be Mahmoud Abbas's deputy, despite winning the primaries held at the seventh Fatah convention two months ago.


The same sources claim that the strike is not intended to be a show of strength vis-a-vis Abbas. "Although he did not gain the majority in Fatah leadership, he has already gained support within the movement," they said.


(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg) 


פרסום ראשון: 04.04.17, 09:46
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