Palestinian prisoners launch hunger strike

At least 1,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have launched an open-ended hunger strike.

The hunger strikes began Tuesday, on what the Palestinians observe as Prisoners’ Day, which honors prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

Another 2,300 prisoners declared that they would not eat on Tuesday in solidarity with the hunger strikers and returned their meals to prison guards. At least eight foreign activists who arrived in Israel on Sunday as part of a protest “fly-in” and remain in an Israeli prison also refused food, Ynet reported.

The mass hunger strike is calling for an end to solitary confinement and isolation; for allowing families of prisoners from the Gaza Strip to visit their loved ones; and allowing prisoners to have newspapers, learning materials and specific television channels. It is also protesting administrative detention. A security prisoner in Israel can be held in administrative detention without charges for up to four months; it can be renewed.

Four Palestinian prisoners have been on extended hunger strikes and are in prison hospitals.

Two other 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.