Friday, October 7, 2011

Detainees in Rimon prison suspend hunger strike

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Detainees in the Israeli prison Rimon said Friday that they would suspend a hunger strike for one day as the administration agreed to discuss demands.

The prisoners’ society said detainees held a session with the prison’s administration and will meet again Monday. If the administration rejects their demands, a general strike will begin Tuesday.

The statement added that the committee which met with the administration was formed of detainees from Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Egypt's ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, met with the prisoners minister in Ramallah to express solidarity with detainees who are on hunger strike.

Yasser Othman met Issa Qaraqe and conveyed a message from the Egyptian leadership that Cairo supported the Palestinian detainees and their struggle against poor jail conditions.

The ambassador called on the Israeli government to respect international norms and human rights in dealing with prisoners, and to preserve their dignity and rights to just treatment while in jail.

Qaraqe thanked the the ambassador for Egypt's support of the Palestinian people and cause.

Palestinians jailed in Israel went on a mass hunger strike on Sept. 27 to protest harsh conditions imposed since Israel toughened restrictions on them in a bid to force the release of a captured Israeli soldier.

Gilad Shalit was captured just outside the Gaza Strip in 2006 and Hamas is seeking the release of more than 1,000 prisoners in return for his freedom.

Thousands of demonstrators staged rallies in the West Bank and Jerusalem this week to support prisoners who are refusing food.

The strike was launched by detainees affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, protesting the treatment of PFLP leader Ahmad Saadat, who has been held in isolation for three years.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in June that Palestinians would see curbs on their prison rights until Shalit was handed over.

Rights groups say the clampdown includes preventing access to books, educational programs and new clothes, expanding solitary confinement, cutting back on family visits and forcing detainees to meet their lawyers with their hands cuffed.

A senior Hamas official warned that rather than bow to Israeli pressure, militants would abduct more Israeli soldiers to push their demand for a mass-release of Palestinian inmates.

According to Qaraqe, around 6,000 Palestinians are currently detained in Israeli prisons.