Last updated: 9 October, 2011

Israel: Hunger-striking prisoners’ condition ‘satisfactory’

Israel on Sunday confirmed that more than 230 Palestinian prisoners in its jails are observing a hunger strike but said their condition remains “satisfactory.”

Around 50 security prisoners from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) began an open-ended hunger strike on September 27 that is still ongoing, Israel Prisons Service said.

Other prisoners have since joined them, swelling their numbers to 234, in a protest against the policy of solitary confinement and living conditions, an IPS statement said.

Last Monday, the IPS said 160 prisoners were on hunger strike.

“The prisoners on hunger strike are under daily medical supervision and their situation is satisfactory,” it said, noting they were drinking water and receiving visits from both the Red Cross and their lawyers.

“IPS personnel are in touch with the prisoners; the IPS is ready for all possible developments, as per assessments of the situation,” it said.

Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, said all 200 PFLP inmates had been observing the strike since the start, while another 200 or so prisoners were joining the strike for three days per week.

“If any of the prisoners die, there will be a big problem,” he told AFP.

Earlier, Palestinian prisoners minister Issa Qaraqa said a number of the striking inmates had been taken to hospital, while others had been put in solitary.

“The prisoners’ health has deteriorated especially after salt was taken away from them and they were put in solitary confinement,” he told Voice of Palestine radio.

Around 6,000 Palestinian prisoners are held in jails across Israel. PFLP members launched the strike in a bid to protest that their leader, Ahmed Saadat, has been held in solitary confinement for the past four years.

Israel accused him of masterminding the killing of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi almost a decade ago, on October 17, 2001.