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The News Line: Feature UNITED IN SUPPORT OF FELLOW PRISONERS ON HUNGER STRIKE Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi said on Sunday that Palestinian prisoners would remain united in their support for fellow prisoners on hunger-strike.

Prisoners affiliated to different political factions and in prisons across Israel all support the hunger strikers, who are ‘fighting a battle for freedom and dignity’ Barghouthi said in a letter.

Commenting on negotiating with Israeli prison authorities, Barghouthi said that the hunger strike committee is the only body authorised to take decisions on behalf of the strike action.

The committee consists of Abdul-Rahim Abu Holy, Alaa Abu Jazar and Nasser Abu Hmeid from Fatah, Jumaa Tayih and Zeid Bseiso from Islamic Jihad, Jamal al-Hur, Muhannad Shreim and Mahmoud Shreitih from Hamas, Ahid Abu Ghilmi from the PFLP and Osamah Abu al-Asal representing the DFLP.

Prisoners in Israel’s Nafha prison said on Sunday that the Israeli response to strike demands has so far been inadequate, adding that they would escalate action by chanting ‘Allah Akbar’ and banging on prison cell doors.

‘We have been on hunger strike for 20 days under the banner of either we live in dignity or die’, prisoners in the Negev jail said in a letter.

On April 17, Palestinian Prisoners Day, over 1,000 prisoners joined a group of hunger-strikers protesting against detention without charge.

The number has now escalated to around 2,000 prisoners who are taking part in the hunger strike.

Islamic Jihad leader Mohammad al-Hindi warned on Sunday that the death of any hunger-striking prisoner will start the third intifada.

Mohammad al-Hindi agreed with Barghouthi that the ‘battle of the empty stomachs’ had overcome factional divisions.

‘This battle will be the gateway for Palestinian unity’, he told supporters of the hunger-strikers at a solidarity tent in central Gaza City.

Al-Hindi urged cross-factional demonstrations to support the prisoners even if they lead to clashes with Israeli forces.

He also called on the Arab League to shut Israeli embassies and expel envoys in response to the popular protest rocking Israel’s jails.

Meanwhile, the Arab League held an urgent meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the situation, with the Kuwaiti chair of the summit posing a resolution at the UN General Assembly to support the prisoners.

Delegates also urged the World Health Organisation to investigate the conditions inside Israeli jails for Palestinians.

On Saturday, 5th May, at least seven Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli forces as they suppressed a solidarity demonstration that launched from Ramallah towards Ofer Military checkpoint, to support Palestinians prisoners on their hunger strike battle.

Dozens of protesters, who participated in the demonstration that was organised in solidarity with prisoners, reached Ofer checkpoint and started to throw stones towards the soldiers, whilst tear gas canisters were fired towards Palestinians and Journalists.

Mosa Sho’ani, a 21-year-old student, was shot in the eye at the Ofer protest and transferred to Ramallah hospital where he is in intensive care.

Support for the prisoners is spreading as school students and civil servants suspended work last Tuesday to take part in a public sit-in to support Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.

Their union, the Union of Workers said public employees and students stopped work at 11am to allow participation in rallies centred on protest tents in cities across the West Bank.

A human rights group has submitted an appeal to Israel’s courts to allow doctors to visit hunger-striking prisoner Bilal Diab.

A doctor from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR) said this week that administrative detainees Bilal Diab, 27, from Jenin, and Thaer Halahla, 33, from Hebron are in a precarious condition after 68 days without food.

The group slammed the Israeli High Court for not setting a date to hear an appeal against Diab and Halahla’s detention orders.

Physicians for Human Rights submitted an appeal based on the recommendation of Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset.

A statement from the group said: ‘After 68 days on hunger strike, Bilal Diab’s medical condition has become serious and he must be checked by a doctor from outside the prison service’.

A report from Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi was attached to the appeal.

Last Thursday, Diab reportedly collapsed in court and was examined by Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi, who is a physician.

The prosecution claimed that the prisoner ‘represents a threat to the security of Israel’.

Diab and Halahla are among over 300 Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails in administrative detention without charge or trial.

Human Rights Watch called on Israel to ‘immediately charge or release people jailed without charge or trial under so-called administrative detention’.
However by Monday Israel’s Supreme Court had turned down the appeal to free the Palestinian prisoners from detention without trial.

But in its decision, released by the justice ministry, the court said security authorities should consider freeing them for medical reasons.

Prisoners are also protesting against restrictive visiting rights and limited access to educational materials.

Meanwhile a Palestinian family from Jerusalem on Monday received an Israeli court eviction order from its house in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem in order to hand it over to settlers, according to the family.

The order was issued in the name of Fatima Salamieh, who has been living in her Sheikh Jarrah house since the 1950s.

Israeli groups claim the house and the entire area where the house is located is owned by Jews and that they were claiming it back.

Several Palestinian families have lost their homes in the same neighbourhood and under the same pretext in recent months.

Jewish settlers had moved into the homes the Palestinian families were forcefully evicted from.

The previous day Israeli forces had demolished a water well in an area southwest of the town of Bani Na’im, east of Hebron.

Israeli forces also uprooted three old olive trees belonging to one of the town’s residents.

The day before Israeli settlers destroyed vineyards in Beit Ummar, a town north of Hebron, by spraying them with toxic chemicals.

Muhammad Awad, member of Beit Ummar National Committee against the Apartheid Wall and Settlements said that settlers from the nearby Karmei Tsur settlement sprayed toxic substance on grape trees in private Palestinian land.

He said landowner Ali Awad was shocked when he came to his land by the scope of the damage done to dozens of his grape trees.

This was not the first time settlers have used chemicals to destroy crops in the area, said Awad, adding that settlers annually destroy the crops during harvest season in an attempt to force farmers to abandon their land in a process to take it over for settlements expansion.

He said Israeli soldiers tried to prevent him from documenting the settlers’ attack and to confiscate his camera before he was able to get away.
 
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