Palestinians in Israeli prisons begin hunger strike

In a punitive measure, Israel's prison service transferred Barghouti to solitary confinement in a different prison.

"The Israeli government will be responsible for any and all of the consequences of this hunger strike - if a prisoner dies, or becomes extremely ill, they are the ones that will have to handle the outcome".

Protests in support of the prisoners are being held in the occupied West Bank, with youths clashing with Israeli security forces in Bethlehem.

"We will not surrender to it", he wrote.

As the strike for better conditions involving more than 1,100 prisoners in eight prisons entered its second day, the Israeli authorities moved swiftly to contain the protest, dispersing key figures to different prisons and ordering searches to prevent inmates sending messages.

Unprecedented in scale, the protest action involves a reported number of 1,500 prisoners. "It is to be emphasized that the (prison service) does not negotiate with prisoners".

In an opinion piece published this week in The New York Times, Barghouti alleged that Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israel "have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence". It threatens to revive Israeli-Palestinian tensions amid attempts to revive stalled peace talks. They also reportedly discussed the prisoners' demand that Israel "comply with global law" with respect to their treatment.

Palestinians started to mark Palestinian Prisoners' Day in April 1974, when Israel released Mahmoud Hijazi in the first prisoner swap between the Palestinian resistance and the occupation state.

An activist said more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners have launched an open-ended hunger strike to demand better conditions in Israeli prisons, including more contact with relatives, and an end to Israel's practice of detentions without trial.

Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said he believes the strike is politically motivated and that the prisoners have no legitimate complaints.

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It quoted Erdan as saying that the demands regarding prisoners' conditions were unreasonable.

The umbrella body highlighted the deteriorating situation of those Palestinian prisoners who fall ill and are often neglected by the Israeli authorities.

Abbas made no mention of Barghouti in his statement on WAFA.

He is popular among Palestinians, with polls suggesting he could win the Palestinian presidency.

He has not publicly designated a successor.

Israeli prisons hold around 6,500 Palestinians, including 300 minors.

Some 500 are held under administrative detention, which allows for imprisonment without charge.

Thirteen Palestinian lawmakers are also among the detainees.

In recent years, previous Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli custody have come close to death and had to be hospitalized.

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