More than 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli prisons have gone on hunger strike demanding better conditions.
Marking the Palestinian Prisoner Day, which falls on 17th April, the PPCS media spokesman, Riad al-Ashqar, said in a press statement that the Israeli occupation army has escalated its arrest campaigns against Palestinians since the eruption of the Jerusalem Intifada in October 2015 and opened new penitentiaries and sections in Negev, Ofer, and Damon prisons to accommodate the large number of prisoners.
Palestinian officials said some 1,500 inmates affiliated with all political factions including rival Fatah and Hamas were taking part in the protest.
Qadura Fares, leader of the non-government advocacy agency Palestinian Prisoners Club, told Haaretz the group will work to promote attention to the hunger strike in the next several days. Over the years, polls have indicated that Barghouti is the most popular choice among Palestinians to succeed the 82-year-old Abbas who has failed to groom a political heir.
About 700 prisoners joined the protest, which was announced overnight between Sunday and Monday, to coincide with the Palestinian Prisoners' Day.
Barghouti further accuses Israel of "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions, writing that "Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence".
Nearly 6,500 Palestinians are being held in 22 Israeli prisons, said Qadoura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club that advocates on behalf of the inmates.
The prisoners' demands include more frequent family visits and easier access to telephones.
In an opinion piece in The New York Times on Monday, Barghouti said a strike was the only way to gain concessions after other options had failed.
A report issued by Amnesty last week, containing interviews with prisoners' family members highlighted the difficulties many complain of in seeing imprisoned relatives, with some saying they have been prevented from seeing relatives for many years.
Hunger striking as a method for pressuring Israel has become increasingly prevalent among Palestinian prisoners in recent years.
"Shame on NYT for printing libelous op-ed by convicted killer Barghouti, the Palestinian Dylann Roof", wrote former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.
Of the some 6,500 Palestinian detainees held by Israel, 62 are women and 300 are minors.
The statement noted that 500 inmates were being incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention, which is a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge.
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