A number of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners being held in solitary confinement began refusing water on Wednesday, as more than 1,500 Palestinians entered the 10th day of the mass “Freedom and Dignity” hunger strike.
Head of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe released a statement Wednesday saying that Israeli Prison Services (IPS) forces had “continued to escalate punitive measures” against prisoners, which started on the first day of the strike, with IPS forces transferring prisoners and leaders of the strike to solitary confinement, and preventing lawyers from visiting prisoners, particularly sick prisoners.
According to Qaraqe, IPS officials have continued preventing prisoners – some of whom are refusing all forms of nutrition except salt and water – from accessing commissaries to purchase salt, provided prisoners with dirty sheets and covers, and carried out provocative search raids of prisoners rooms, and arbitrary transfers of prisoners.
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The committee noted in statement that “all legal efforts are still being conducted by legal institutions to enable lawyers to visit Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.”
Qaraqe added that officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – which is in charge of coordinating with Israeli authorities to arrange family visitations for Palestinian prisoners – would be visiting prisoners on Thursday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), according to Qaraqe, would be increasing the size of their field crews, as many prisoners had been transferred to prison field hospitals and clinics due to the deterioration of their health conditions.
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Hunger-striking prisoner Nael Ali Najjar, from the Gaza Strip, told the committee that he had lost five kilograms since the beginning of the strike. Najjar is currently being held in solitary confinement in Israel’s Nafha prison.
Additionally, Qaraqe reported Tuesday evening that hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Abd al-Rabbu “started bleeding,” though the nature of his bleeding remained unclear.
The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) meanwhile visited Palestinian hunger strikers in Nafha, in order to monitor the conditions in which they were being held, as well as to transmit verbal messages from the prisoners to their families.
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ICRC confirmed that it had increased its visits to Israeli detention facilities holding Palestinians since the beginning of the strike.
Several other prisoners have announced that they will be joining the strike as well.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) released a statement Wednesday saying it was “strongly concerned” over the lives of the hundreds of hunger-striking prisoners, adding that “Israeli forces should be fully held responsible for the deterioration of prisoners’ conditions in light of the stubbornness of the IPS to meet their humane demands.”
The center noted that by its count, around 6,500 Palestinian prisoners were detained in 22 Israeli prisons and detention facilities, most of which are established in Israel, “constituting a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, particularly Article 76, which obliges the occupying power to detain prisoners from the occupied population in the occupied territories until the end of their sentences.”
“Most of those prisoners are residents of the West Bank, including 57 women and 300 children. Moreover, the number of sick prisoners is about 1,800 prisoners, including 180 prisoners who suffer from serious diseases in addition to 26 others who have cancer,” PCHR said.
(Maan, PC, Social Media)