Talks Fail between Israeli Prison Service and Palestinian Prisoners

New talks between the Israeli Prison Service and Palestinian prisoners to end current tensions in the Rimon and Nafha prisons have failed, a prisoners’ center said Tuesday.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies reported that IPS officials met with leaders inside of Nafha to discuss the tensions that came to a head Monday when hundreds of prisoners declared a “campaign of disobedience.”

IPS reportedly said that a decision to impose sanctions on prisoners was a political one not made by IPS authorities, but offered to lift all sanctions after six months.

The offer was refused by prisoners who demanded that all sanctions be lifted immediately, the prisoners’ center said in a statement.

The center added that as the situation remains tense in Nafha, detainees across other prisons are carrying out acts of disobedience in solidarity with the campaign.

Tuesday’s meeting was the latest move by the IPS since chaos erupted inside of the jails last week after nearly 200 prisoners began hunger strikes.

On Monday around 120 Fatah-affiliated prisoners agreed to temporarily suspend their strikes following talks with the IPS.

Around 560 prisoners then began a campaign to protest conditions inside of the jails, according to the Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs.

The PA committee said the move came following incursions into their rooms by the Israeli Prison Service, sanctions imposed on hunger strikers, and the denial of regular family visits to prisoners, among other violations.

The campaign is set to continue until the end of August at which point the prisoners are expected to announce an open-ended hunger strike.

“Disobedience” by prisoners includes a boycott of domestic work, daily roll-call, security checks and prison clinics that don’t provide necessary services.

The nearly 6,000 Palestinians currently held in Israeli jails are subject to notoriously brutal mistreatment that has been condemned by Palestinian leadership and the international community.

Last month the Israeli Knesset passed a law that allows the force-feeding of Palestinian detainees on hunger strike, despite opposition members arguing the practice as “cruel, dangerous and unnecessary.”

“No hunger-striking prisoner has ever died in the State of Israel, but 50 prisoners who were force-fed did die. This law kills, and it permits things that are prohibited according to international norms,” left-wing Knesset member Dov Khenin said at the time.

The Israeli Medical Association described the move as “tantamount to torture.”

The continuation of Monday’s campaign is accompanied by mounting fears around the potential use of force-feeding on Palestinian prisoner Mohammad Allan who is reportedly nearing 60 days of hunger strike.

President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said “huge” efforts were being made to save Allan’s life and support other prisoners. The leader praised the prisoners for defending Palestinian pride.

Allan, who has been held without trial or charge since November, has been on hunger strike for at least 56 days, although the exact length is unclear.

Earlier on Tuesday, dozens of activists stormed the entrance to the International Committee of the Red Cross in occupied East Jerusalem demanding that the organization send a permanent representative to the medical center where Allan is being held to prevent possible attempts to force feed him.

(Ma’an)

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