Some 100 Fatah security prisoners have abandoned their hunger strike as of Friday morning, according to the Israel Prisons Service.
Hundreds of other Palestinian prisoners, however, have joined the strike since it began on Monday, bringing the total number of inmates who have refused food in protest of their conditions to 1,200-1,300.
According to the IPS, a Palestinian man who had a preexisting heart condition was transferred to an Israeli hospital for treatment. The Palestinian news site Ma’an named the prisoner as Said Musallam and reported that several other hunger-strikers have also been hospitalized.
The hunger strike has been led by popular Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for murder over his role orchestrating terror attacks against Israeli citizens during the Second Intifada. He began to call for a strike after talks between prisoners’ representatives and the Israel Prisons Service on improving jail conditions reached an impasse. Those talks began more than a year and a half ago.
Among the demands from Barghouti and the prisoners are the resumption of a second monthly visit by family members (a benefit that was cancelled by the International Committee of the Red Cross due to budget cuts), the prevention of family meetings being cancelled for security reasons, and the restoration of academic studies and matriculation exams to prisoners. Other demands include more television channels being available in cells, and cell phones in security wings.
Palestinian Prisoners Club head Qadura Fares told AFP on Thursday that Israel would allow all the strikers, including Barghouti, access to lawyers, in a reversal of its previous position.
Access to lawyers had been prevented following the start of the strike, Palestinian officials said, with Barghouti moved to solitary confinement.
The Israel Prisons Service said it was acting under its rules, without elaborating further.
Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently detained by Israel for a range of terror offenses and crimes. Around 500 are held under administrative detention, which allows for imprisonment without charge.
Palestinian prisoners have previously mounted hunger strikes, but rarely on such a scale.
Avi Issacharoff and Agencies contributed to this report.