Palestinians in Israeli jails set to launch hunger strike

More than 1,600 Palestinians in Israeli jails reportedly are set to launch a hunger strike on what is called Palestinian Prisoners Day.

The coordinated hunger strike is scheduled to begin Tuesday, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported. But it is unclear whether Fatah and Hamas prisoners will begin the hunger strike together, Ma’an reported, citing Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority prisoners’ affairs minister. Fatah officials believe that starting the hunger strike on Prisoners Day will harm negotiations with Israeli authorities, according to Ma’an.

The mass hunger strike is calling for an end to solitary confinement and isolation; to allow families of prisoners from the Gaza Strip to visit their loved ones; and to allow prisoners to have newspapers, learning materials and specific television channels.

The news agency reported, citing the Gaza-based Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, that four Palestinian prisoners now on hunger strikes are in an Israeli prison hospital and two others are in solitary confinement. The six are being held in administrative detention. A prisoner can be held in administrative detention without charges for up to four months; it can be renewed.

Two high-profile hunger strikers were released after cutting deals with Israeli authorities.

Khader Adnan ended his 66-day hunger strike in mid-February when Israeli prosecutors agreed that his administrative detention would not be renewed. Hana Shalabi, a member of Islamic Jihad, agreed March 29 to end her 43-day hunger strike and be freed in exchange for spending the next three years in Gaza.