Thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons have begun a three-day hunger strike to protest "an escalating series of punitive measures by the Israel Prison Service (IPS)”.
Palestinian minister for prisoners, Issa Qaraqa said on Wednesday that the strike was a protest against the policy of solitary confinement, and was called to show solidarity with a group of prisoners from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
"I can confirm that all the prisoners in Israeli prisons have begun a three-day hunger strike, which could be increased, as a kind of warning to the Israeli administration," Qaraqa told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
"Around 200 prisoners from the PFLP and some others began an open-ended hunger strike yesterday to protest the continued solitary confinement of their secretary general Ahmed Saadat for the last four years," he added.
According to Qaraqa, a number of Palestinian prisoners have been in solitary confinement for 10 years.
"The prison authorities have imposed harsh penalties and unprecedented measures, pushing the prisoners into a state of rebellion against all the rules in force inside the occupation prisons," he added.
Prisoner rights group Addameer said in a statement that those measures affected "everything from prisoners’ access to education, books and family visits, to the IPS’s use of isolation and fines as punishment."
Palestinian inmates have reportedly planned other forms of disobedience, including refusal to wear prison uniforms or cooperate with any other IPS demands.
Currently, there are some 7,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
The rights group also urged the Palestinian Authority not to return to negotiations with Israel before all Palestinian and Arab political prisoners held in Israeli custody are released.