On 38th Day, Hunger Strikers Threaten Individual Action to Pressure Israel

Marwan Barghouti's wife, Fadwa, launches sit in strike near Yasser Arafat grave in support of prisoner hunger strikers. (Photo: via Twitter)

As hundreds of Palestinian prisoners entered the 38th day of a mass hunger strike in Israeli custody on Wednesday, the hunger strikers have reportedly discussed escalating tactics to pressure Israeli authorities into acceding to their demands.

The news came as dozens of prisoners, including hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouthi, were taken to hospitals on Wednesday for medical examinations.\

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS) quoted anonymous sources located inside Israeli prisons as saying that the hunger-striking prisoners were considering breaking the unity of the hunger strike should one of the hunger strikers die amid continued Israeli refusal to negotiate with the prisoners.

While the estimated 1,300 prisoners currently participating in the strike have so far stood united behind Barghouthi, a prominent Fatah leader, a “breakup” of the strike would mean that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) would have to negotiate with each prisoner individually, which PPCS head Rafaat Hamdouna said could lead to “a chaos that IPS can’t control or afford.”

While PPCS did not indicate that this was an option officially being considered by the hunger strikers, Hamdouna hypothesized that some prisoners might decide to use violence and carry out stabbing attacks against IPS guards and officials should the strike go on without official leadership.

Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs head Issa Qaraqe told Voice of Palestine, the official radio station of the Palestinian Authority, on Wednesday that there were still no signs of Israeli authorities responding to the hunger strikers’ demands, although he expressed hope that Israel’s position might change following a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

Hunger-striking prisoners are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.

Qaraqe said that Israel had no choice but to negotiate with the leaders of the hunger strike given the dangerous point reached by a number of hunger strikers after forgoing food for more than a month, as he emphasized that the prisoners remained determined to continue with their strike until their demands were achieved, even if it meant risking their lives.

Meanwhile, Israeli news outlet Ynet reported on Wednesday that Barghouthi had been temporarily taken to a hospital on Wednesday due to his health condition, before being returned to Kishon prison.

(Ma’an, PC, Social Media)

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