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Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails embark on open-ended hunger strike

After days of talks and a sense of optimism of an agreement, some 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails embarked this afternoon on an open-ended hunger strike following failure of talks with the Israel Prison Services (IPS) over issues of concern for the prisoners, the Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees said today.

It said in a statement that representatives of the prisoners have announced that following days of talks with the IPS at Rimon Prison, no results were reached and therefore they have called for an open hunger strike that also includes refusing to drink water.

The prisoners were demanding that the IPS remove all jamming devices recently installed in some prisons due to their impact on the health of the prisoners, allowing visitation by families of Gaza prisoners, installing public phones in the prisons, ending the solitary conferment of prisoners who were punished following the recent troubles in the prisons, ending raids of cells and assaults and improving medical service, among others.

The Detainees Commission said the strike, which started with 150 prisoners in Ramon and the Naqab (Ketziot) prisons, will expand in the coming days to include more prisoners in other jails.

Head of the Detainees Commission, Qadri Abu Bakr, said he believes the IPS went back on what was agreed on in the last few days with the prisoners as a result of political pressure due to the Israeli elections, which is going to take place tomorrow.

Prisoners had before went on mass hunger strike to demand better conditions and treatment but their strike was always ed to food while taking in salted water to prevent dehydration. However, this time the strike will also include refusing water, which could get very serious in a very short time.

The extremist Israeli Home Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, who has personally led a campaign to make life very difficult for the prisoners in recent months that included reducing the amount of water they get in addition to ordering installing the jamming devices, has recently called for preparing hospitals in Israel to receive incoming prisoners who are going on hunger and water strike, in a sign that the prisoners’ demands will not be met.

There are around 6000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails, many incarcerated for many years and even several life terms for resisting the Israeli occupation of their homeland.