Palestinians appeal to UN over hunger-striking prisoners
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Palestinians appeal to UN over hunger-striking prisoners

Over 880 prisoners, many jailed for involvement in terror attacks, continue to refuse food as protest enters 24th day

Palestinian activists stand around a 5x4 meter (16.5x13 feet) mosaic portrait of Marwan Barghouti near an Israeli military installation in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Palestinian activists stand around a 5x4 meter (16.5x13 feet) mosaic portrait of Marwan Barghouti near an Israeli military installation in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

The Palestinians sent a letter to the UN Security Council late Tuesday appealing to the international community to support hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.

The letter from Palestinian Charge d’Affaires Feda Abdelhady-Nasser claimed Israel has not responded to the prisoners’ grievances, calling for an end “to solitary confinement, torture, medical negligence, and administrative detention, as well as for proper access to education, medical care and family visitation.” It demanded that Israel respect their rights, dignity and humanity.

The letter claimed that Israel has “intensified its abuse and collective punishment of the prisoners.”

The strike is led by Marwan Barghouti, 58, who is serving five life terms after he was convicted in a civilian court of ordering and directing terror attacks that killed five people. Barghouti, in prison since 2002, never mounted a defense, saying the Israeli court had no jurisdiction over him.

Israeli officials have alleged that Barghouti, widely seen as a potential successor to the 82-year-old Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, launched the strike to further his political ambitions.

Israel’s public security minister, Gilad Erdan, accused Barghouti of being a “murderer and a hypocrite.”

More than 880 prisoners remained on a hunger strike Tuesday, the 23rd day of their protest — a number that was about the same as before the release of a video that Israel said shows strike leader Barghouti secretly eating in his cell.

Supporters of Barghouti claim the video is a fabrication intended to break the prisoners’ morale. The video, which appears to show Barghouti snacking, was released Sunday.

Marwan Barghouti seen in video footage unwrapping a candy bar in his cell while ostensibly leading a hunger strike among Palestinian prisoners. (Screen capture: Israeli Prisons Service)
Marwan Barghouti seen in video footage unwrapping a candy bar in his cell while ostensibly leading a hunger strike among Palestinian prisoners. (Screen capture: Israeli Prisons Service)

Palestinian activists near and IDF base outside Ramallah on Tuesday erected a 5- by 4-meter (16.5- by 13-foot) mosaic portrait of Barghouti made from glass shards, to show support for him and the strike.

“We, the Palestinian people, have high trust in Marwan, and we don’t listen to the Israeli allegations,” said activist Abdullah Abu Rahmeh. “Marwan will lead the strike until it accomplishes its goals.”

Abu Rahmeh said work on the mosaic began before the release of the video.

The prisoners are demanding better conditions, including more family visits.

Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Nicole Englander said 882 prisoners were still on a hunger strike. She said one has been hospitalized and another underwent medical checks. Last week, the number of hunger strikers ranged from 850 to 890.

Abbas urged Israel on Tuesday to meet what he said were humanitarian demands. He said a possible deterioration in the conditions of the hunger strikers “would make the situation more and more complicated.”

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