Hamas prisoners announce hunger strike to protest administrative detention

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Hamas announced on Sunday that dozens of its operatives who are prisoners in Israeli jails will go on hunger strike to protest the current policy of administrative detention against Palestinian suspects.

“Dozens of prisoners are preparing for an indefinite hunger strike to support the six prisoners who are currently on hunger strike to reject administrative detentions,” Hamas said in a statement, reported by Hamas official television.

Prisoners currently on hunger strike, some of whom have been without food for nearly three months, are placed in administrative detention, a controversial legal process that allows Israeli authorities to detain prisoners without charge.

“We cannot remain silent,” the Hamas statement said.

The announcement comes two days after the leadership of a group of prisoners affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group announced the end of a hunger strike to protest Israel’s new detainee policy.

The unofficial body said on Friday that it had reached an agreement with the Israeli prison service which was responding to several of its requests.

Cells are seen at Ketziot prison following riots by Palestinian security prisoners on September 8, 2021. (Courtesy)

A security official familiar with the situation, however, told The Times of Israel on Friday that the group’s claims were false and that there had been no negotiations between the prisoners and the guards.

“There was no official hunger strike in the number they claimed, and there was no negotiation,” the official said. Despite reports of 250 prisoners participating in a nine-day hunger strike, the official said that at its peak, 40 prisoners participated, but not for the entire period.

“In the same way that they started it in an unorganized way, they also ended it in an unorganized way,” the official said, saying that no immediate changes would take place in the prison after the strike. hunger. “If anything has to change in the future, it has nothing to do with it. “

Since six Palestinian security prisoners escaped from Gilboa prison in northern Israel in early September, the Israeli Prison Service has taken a number of steps in an attempt to reduce the chances of another escape, triggering protest hunger strikes by Islamic Jihad detainees.

A protester flies a Palestinian flag and chants slogans next to burning tires during clashes with Israeli troops following a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails at the entrance to the West Bank town of Nablus, Monday, September 13, 2021 (AP Photo / Nasser Nasser)

The policies included the separation of groups of Islamic Jihad prisoners, the transfer of some to other prisons and solitary confinement for some inmates. Family visits have also been postponed. The fugitives – since recaptured – have also been dispersed to five prisons across the country.

The Prisoners Club is a Palestinian organization that defends the interests of Palestinians in Israeli prisons. While the organization was previously financially supported by the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah has reportedly ceased funding the organization for at least three years.

Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhaleh said earlier in October that the terror group would be ready to go to war on behalf of its prisoners.

“The Palestinian Islamic Jihad will not let its members in Zionist prisons fall victim to the hands of the enemy. As a result, we will stand by their side and support them with whatever we have, even if it means we have to wage war for their sake, ”al-Nakhaleh said. “No agreement or other consideration will prevent us from doing so,” he said.

Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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