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Issue #1779      May 31, 2017

Dignity and Freedom strike

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails ended their 40-day hunger strike last week after “80 percent” of their demands were met. Detainees ended the “Strike for Dignity and Freedom,” led by Palestine Liberation Organisation commander Marwan Barghouti, who has been in jail for 13 years, on the first day of Ramadan after two days of talks.

Israel prison service spokeswoman Nicole Englander said 1,578 prisoners participated in the hunger strike overall and 834 had ended their fast. She said 18 were being treated in hospitals.

Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Commission chairman Issa Qaraqe told a press conference that most of their demands had been won. “A substantial transformation has been achieved by this strike,” he said. “This constitutes an important achievement to be built on in the future.”

Among those demands were improvements in prison conditions, including poor food and overcrowding, and allowing detainees two family visits per month instead of one.

They have also been granted access to higher education, proper medical care and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial. Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun said in a statement: “We salute and congratulate the prisoners on their victory after 40 days of sacrifice, steadfastness and endless struggle.

“We also salute and congratulate all those who contributed to this victory, throughout Palestine, in the refugee camps, in Palestinian communities everywhere and among strugglers around the world for justice and liberation.”

The group vowed to renew the struggle “for all Palestinian prisoners and for the land and people of Palestine.”

Samidoun condemned the International Committee of the Red Cross, which ended the second monthly family visit to prisoners in August 2016, blaming budget cuts.

“Far from a neutral bystander, the International Committee of the Red Cross was in fact a party to this strike and a participant in the confiscation of the rights of Palestinian prisoners,” said the group. There are over 6,000 Palestinians held illegally in Israeli jails including many children.

Morning Star

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