Palestinians in Israeli jails launch mass hunger strike

PCHR also called on European countries to activate Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that Israel should respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation; and the United Nations bodies, International Committee of the Red Cross and international community to pressurize Israel to improve the detention conditions of the Palestinian prisoners, stop torture and open prisons to observers until prisoners are released.

Led by the high-profile Fatah prisoner and leader Marwan Barghouti, seen by some as a potential successor to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, 700 prisoners initially joined the strike, announced on Sunday evening.

The strike coincides with Palestinian Prisoners Day, which is usually marked on 17 April.

Qadoura Fares, an advocate for prisoners' rights, said 6,500 Palestinians are now held by Israel.

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"Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel's illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners", he wrote.

A lot of them are jailed for participating in the struggle against the Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza, lands that Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East War and where the Palestinians wish to establish their future state.

Israel denies Palestinian inmates are mistreated and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the Barghouti-led protest was "prompted by internal Palestinian politics and therefore includes unreasonable demands". As part of Israel's effort to undermine the Palestinian struggle for freedom, an Israeli court sentenced me to five life sentences and 40 years in prison in a political show trial that was denounced by worldwide observers.

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

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Prisoners in Ashkelon, Nafha, Rimon, Hadarim, Gilboa and Beer-Sheva put all the food out of their cells and declared their hunger strike.

Prisoners are demanding more contact with relatives, better access to medical treatment and an end to the Israeli practice of detention without trial.

Despite recurrent infighting between Palestinian factions, prisoners from multiple groups, including Hamas and the Palestinian People's Party, are also taking part in the hunger strike.

Channel 2 said Israel was determined not to give in to any of the prisoners demands.

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The won was quoted at 1,140.0 to the U.S. dollar at the conclusion of onshore trade, down 0.9 per cent from the previous session. Abe linked his warning about the North Korean capability to recent chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Mr Erdan said a field hospital would be erected next to one prison - an apparent move to preempt transfers to civilian medical facilities, which could draw wider media attention.

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