Nearly 2,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons have rejected a compromise proposal to end their hunger strike protesting the conditions of imprisonment, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported Sunday.
The news came as terror leader Ahmad Saadat, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, became the eighth hunger striker to be hospitalized.
Saadat, who has been held in isolation for three years, was charged with killing Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi in 2001. He is serving a 30-year sentence.
One of the central demands of the two-week-old strike is that Israel cease its policy of holding Palestinian detainees in solitary confinement, which the prisoners group Al-Ahrar claims violates international law.
Detainees said they would continue refusing food despite an Israeli proposal to gather isolated prisoners into a special section. The Israelis also wanted the prisoners to agree not to participate in political activities upon release from solitary confinement.
Fouad Khafash, director of al-Ahrar told Ma’an that the prisoners refuse “half-solutions.”
Over the past several days prison authorities have taken measures against the strikers, including canceling family visits and separating hunger strikers from non-striking prisoners.
Prisoners have also accused Israel of assaulting detainees, denying medical treatment and blocking access to education.
Another major target of the strikers is the Israeli policy of administrative detention, which allows for prisoners to be detained indefinitely without officially being charged.
Two prisoners recently won their release from administrative detention by embarking on huinger strikes, galvanizing Palestinian and international opposition to the policy in the process.
The number of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons without trial has risen by some 50 percent over the past year.
At times, Israel has imprisoned thousands of Palestinians in this manner. At other times, such as during Menachem Begin’s tenure as prime minister, the number has dipped to as low as three. Currently there are 319 such prisoners.
Israeli security officials are adamant that the practice, harsh though it is, does successfully reduce terror attacks.
“The bottom line is that this is a legal tool used when there are clear-cut threats to Israeli security and there is no other recourse,” Captain Eytan Buchman of the IDF Spokesperson’s Office said recently.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report
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