Anger at the policy of open-ended detention without charges as well as a list of demands for basic rights, particularly to receive visits from close relatives, have led over 1,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons to launch a mass hunger strike.
The new strike comes as two of the detainees were on their 48th day without food. Israel had previously agreed to private deals with two other hunger strikers, agreeing not to keep renewing the detention of the one and expelling the other to Gaza, in return for ending their strikes.
The policy of “administrative detention,” which allows Israel to detain any Palestinian without charges for an unlimited number of consecutive six month terms, has come under growing international criticism.
Experts on the topic say that past hunger strikes have been used for almost every basic right Palestinian prisoners have been given in Israeli custody. In the 1970’s, a hunger strike was launched to give prisoners access to blank paper and pencils.
Israel has defended the “administrative detentions,” saying that giving evidence of wrongdoing would be a threat to national security. The laws restricting prisoners’ access to basic goods are usually launched as diplomatic initiatives meant to spite the Palestinian Authority for some perceived slight.
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