|The News Line: Editorial
Saturday, 13 May 2017
Labour must call to free Palestinian hunger strikers and recognise State of Palestine!
THE Head of the Prisoners’ Affairs Committee Issa Qaraqe said on Friday afternoon, the 26th day of the prisoners’ hunger strike, that negotiations could take place between the Israeli authorities and leaders of the mass indefinite hunger strike of 1,600 Palestinian prisoners during the coming hours of Friday.
Qaraqe told WAFA that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) had suggested a meeting with leaders of the mass indefinite ‘Freedom and Dignity’ hunger strike to discuss the hunger-striking prisoners’ demands.
‘Apparently, the IPS are attempting to start negotiations with leaders of the hunger strike without involving Marwan Barghouthi. However, hunger-striking prisoners have insisted that any negotiations must be led by Barghouthi,’ he added.
‘It is still unclear whether IPS would seriously engage in their negotiations with hunger strikers, but the mass movement, international pressure, the critical health conditions of hunger strikers on the 26th day of the strike and the fact that many of them were transferred to hospitals have certainly pushed IPS to take this step,’ he added.
He also referred to the severe health deterioration of hunger strikers, explaining that many have started to vomit blood and suffered weight loss, waves of dizziness and other severe health problems.
The hunger-striking prisoners, lead by Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial – among other demands for basic rights.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday visited Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, who has been leading an estimated 1,600 on a mass hunger strike since April 17, in his solitary confinement cell in the Gilboa prison, near Nazareth in northern Israel.
Barghouthi’s wife, Fadwa Barghouthi, said in a statement, ‘I wish I had any news to assure you on his condition,’ highlighting that the ICRC only told her and her family that they visited her husband, and that ‘he sends his regards to her and the family,’ without providing any more details regarding his health condition.
Despite the lack of detailed information on Barghouthi’s condition, the media committee of the hunger strike reported on Thursday that the health conditions of the hunger strikers were severely deteriorating, as prisoners experienced difficulty moving, severe dehydration, stomach aches, headaches, irregular heartbeats, and low blood pressure.
The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs is warning that the hunger strikers’ health conditions have reached a tragic level of extreme danger on the 26th day of hunger strike. It also stated that a total of 46 hunger strikers were transferred to field hospitals.
On Thursday, Palestinian rights groups sent a joint letter to Israeli authorities demanding that a criminal investigation be opened against Israeli officials who published faked footage of Barghouthi purportedly eating in his cell earlier this week.
The aim of the video was to humiliate Marwan Barghouthi and undermine the hunger strikers. On Wednesday, the Palestine Prisoners’ Centre for Studies said it was told by Palestinian prisoners that Israeli Shin Bet officers had told them, ‘Marwan lets you starve while he eats.’
Despite the numerous attempts to break the will of the hunger strikers and discredit Barghouthi, their will is unbreakable, as is their support for Barghouthi who has led an unblemished life of struggle against the cruel Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Now is the time for the workers of the world through their political and trade union organisations, such as the UK’s TUC, and the USA’s AFL-CIO, to intervene and insist that Israel must negotiate with the prisoners’ leader Marwan al-Barghouthi, and that their demands must be met and the prisoners freed. In fact, they must impose a complete boycott of all Israeli goods and trade until this happens.
The Labour Party cannot stay quiet on this vital issue. It must insert into its Election Manifesto the demand that Israel free the hunger strikers at once, and that a Labour government will, as its first act, recognise the state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. This is the way forward!
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