Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Israel rules out talks with Palestinian hunger striking inmates

The former Tanzim leader, wrote in the op-ed that a hunger strike was "the most peaceful form of resistance available" against what he said is "Israel's illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners". Deliberately evoking Nelson Mandela - Barghouti himself is often called Palestine's Mandela - the article laid out the cruelties regularly inflicted on prisoners, many of whom are only children.

Barghouti is now serving five life sentences for having a prominent role in the second Palestinian intifada - a period of uprising against Israel between 2000 and 2005 that saw the deaths of 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis.

The open-ended strike was launched on Monday to coincide with Palestinian Prisoners Day amid calls by detainees for more frequent prison visits, better medical care and better treatment for female prisoners.

Palestinians are holding rallies and protests across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in solidarity with the prisoners.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the New York Times has since "recanted" the article.

"Through our hunger strike, we seek an end to these abuses ..."

Also, the prisons, where the detainees have access to TV, had their satellite receptions blocked from all Palestinian and Arab TV stations. "Some have been killed while in detention", he wrote.

Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official who participated in the march, reiterated Hamas' demand for a prisoner swap with Israel.

"This massive strike sends a strong message to the Israelis, after 50 years of occupation, suppression, and oppression, that the prisoners. will lead their people from behind bars, " she said.

"We are already talking to those prisoners and there is absolutely no reason for a hunger strike, we have a dialogue with those prisoners".

Top Israeli officials have vowed not to negotiate with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, adding that the death penalty would "prevent" imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti from staging the nationwide protest.

The Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement: "The Palestinian prisoners are not political prisoners". "He is a convicted murderer and a terrorist". "They were brought to justice and are treated properly under worldwide law", ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.

Israel Prisons Service spokesman Assaf Librati said that hunger strikers would be disciplined and later added that Barghouti had been transferred from Hadarim prison to Jalami prison, near Haifa, 48 kilometers to the north.

The Prisoners' Club said a main demand was for Israel to halt detention without trial for some 500 Palestinians now being held and for an end to solitary confinement. It threatens to revive Israeli-Palestinian tensions amid attempts to revive stalled peace talks.

Palestinians consider brethren held in Israeli jails as national heroes.

He said the measure was a punishment for Barghouti's part in organizing the strike and not because of an op-ed by the Palestinian leader that the New York Times published on Monday.

Large numbers of people gathered in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) in a show of unity with the prisoners.

Israeli public radio reported that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has ordered intervention units to be put on standby and a field hospital to be set up outside one prison to avoid having to take sick prisoners to civilian hospitals.

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