Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jail begin hunger strike

However, Israeli security officials believe that the real reason Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah leader who is now serving five consecutive life sentences, announced the strike is to show that he still holds considerable political power in the Palestinian world.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are now detained by Israel for a range of offences and alleged crimes, and for many Palestinians the prisons themselves have become a stark symbol of Israel's occupation.

Marking the Palestinian Prisoner Day, which falls on 17th April, the PPCS media spokesman, Riad al-Ashqar, said in a press statement that the Israeli occupation army has escalated its arrest campaigns against Palestinians since the eruption of the Jerusalem Intifada in October 2015 and opened new penitentiaries and sections in Negev, Ofer, and Damon prisons to accommodate the large number of prisoners.

The call for hunger strike came amidst resentment of Israeli's cruel policies towards political prisoners.

The Arab League called on Sunday for worldwide protection for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, Anadolu has reported.

"Decades of experience have proved that Israel's inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong".

Ashkar touched on the deteriorating conditions of the sick prisoners as the medical negligence practiced against them continues. The Hebrew-language Ynet news website reported that the Prison Service launched an investigation to find out how Barghouti "smuggled" the article outside the jail. "It is unlawful and cruel and the consequences for the imprisoned person and their loved ones, who are often deprived from seeing them for months, and at times for years on end, can be devastating".

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Hamas recently suggested it would support a smaller Palestine state, without specifying if this would be a stepping stone to Israel's destruction. "The Israeli authorities are using the permits to punish me", Ahmed said.

The 57-year-old Barghouti says that he has been in and out of prison since the age of 15.

Barghouti wrote that Israeli prisons have become the "cradle of a lasting movement for Palestinian self-determination".

The last large-scale hunger strike was in February 2013, when 3,000 Palestinians refused to eat for one day to protest against the death of a fellow detainee.

According to Shakir, a mass hunger strike is an attempt by Palestinian prisoners to shed light on such practices that raise serious questions about Israel's policies under global law. Palestinians consider brethren held in Israeli jails as national heroes.

Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan held a meeting with prison authorities, police, intelligence agencies and security forces on Sunday (16 April) to address the situation.

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