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Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launch mass hunger strike

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launch mass hunger strikeā€

More than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails have gone on hunger strike to demand better conditions in one of the largest protests in recent years. "Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian", reads the author description underneath the article "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel's Prisons". Over the years, polls have indicated that Barghouti is the most popular choice among Palestinians to succeed the 82-year-old Abbas who has failed to groom a political heir.

Some 1,100 prisoners are taking part in the hunger strike and Channel 2 said dozens of other high-profile prisoners had also been moved to different jails or prison wings in a move to disrupt the strike.

Marking Palestinian Prisoners' Day, the organisation said that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails "suffer violations classified as war crimes that need an International Criminal Court ruling".

Under the motto "Strike for freedom and dignity", the prisoners presented a series of demands, including the improvement of the visits system, and the end of solitary confinement and administrative detention, which allows detention without charge or trial for periods of six months renewable indefinitely. Prison rules say inmates can receive family visitors once every two weeks; in reality, visitors from occupied Palestinian territories are first required to apply for permits to enter Israel, and those permits are often denied.

In his piece, Barghouti, who was convicted in 2004 on five counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and who was implicated in four other terror attacks, characterizes himself as "both a witness to and a victim of" alleged Israeli abuses against Palestinian prisoners, including "mass arbitrary arrests, torture, punitive measures and severe restrictions". Prisoners have so far declared strikes in eight different Israeli prisons.

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Among the demands from Barghouti and the prisoners are the resumption of a second monthly visit by family members (a benefit that was cancelled by the International Committee of the Red Cross due to budget cuts), the prevention of family meetings being cancelled for security reasons, and the restoration of academic studies and matriculation exams to prisoners.

Hamas recently suggested it would support a smaller Palestine state, without specifying if this would be a stepping stone to Israel's destruction.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club non-governmental organisation put the number at 1,500.

Librati stated that prison officials will be updating numbers later in the day as some prisoners "said they would only observe a symbolic protest strike and then resume eating afterwards".

In an op-ed published in The New York Times, Barghouti wrote that Israeli prisons have become the "cradle of a lasting movement for Palestinian self-determination".

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There are around 6,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, according to Palestinian figures.

Israel has built almost all of its prisons inside Israel rather than in the occupied territory.

He added that hundreds of detainees intend to join the strike in the coming few days.

Now 500 Palestinians are being held in this way, according to Mr Fares.

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