UN chief urges resolution of prisoner hunger strike

Israel faces mounting pressure over Palestinians kept in administrative detention

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (photo credit: AP/Osama Faisal)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (photo credit: AP/Osama Faisal)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel on Tuesday to find a solution to what he called the “rapidly deteriorating condition” of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody who are on hunger strike.

The UN chief’s spokesperson underlined the critical health condition of Samer Issawi, who has been on partial hunger strike for over 200 days. He added that of particular concern are  detainees held in administrative detention.

“Those detained should be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or be promptly released,” he said.

Eight-hundred Palestinian prisoners serving sentences in the Rimon, Eshel, and Nafkha prisons began a hunger strike on Tuesday in solidarity with Issawi and three other hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli detention. In response to the prisoners’ hunger strike, violent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces continued across the West Bank on Tuesday.

The United Nations, added the spokesman, would continue to closely following the situation on the ground.

“The United Nations will remain engaged with relevant authorities on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides and hopes for an early resolution of this important issue,” he said.

A Fatah official warned on Tuesday of an increase in Palestinian violence if hunger-striking prisoners held in administrative detention in Israel are not released immediately.

Kadoura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, a nongovernmental organization dealing with prisoners’ rights, told The Times of Israel that, while Palestinians are not interested in launching a third intifada over the administrative detention of Palestinians in Israeli jails, emotions may flare out of control.

“Sometimes the fire starts out small and expands to a large inferno,” he said. “If one of the prisoners dies, spirits will flare, Israeli soldiers will shoot at demonstrators, and things will get out of hand.”

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