Palestinian prisoners on mass hunger strike

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners began a mass open-ended hunger strike Monday to protest Israel's detention policies.

The prisoners also demand to have periodic medical checkups and to increase the number of visits by the International Red Cross.

Protesters have launched sympathy marches in several major towns in the West Bank, such as Hebron and Ramallah.

According to human rights organizations, there are now about 6,500 Palestinian political prisoners in Israel, including 57 women, 300 children, 13 legislators, 500 administrative detainees, 18 journalists and 800 prisoners requiring medical attention. Zomlot also handed Ratney a document summarizing these claims, which Ratney, according to the Palestinian reports, said he will pass to the senior ranks of the administration.

Ofer Zalzberg, a security analyst with the International Crisis Group - a transnational NGO, told Anadolu Agency that Israel was now trying to avoid being forced into making any concessions as a result of the hunger strike.

Some 500 are held under administrative detention, which allows for imprisonment without charge, prompting prisoners to launch repeated hunger strikes over the years - but rarely on such a large scale.

Furthermore, Israeli has moved at least 35 detainees from Section 11 to Section 13, in Nafha Israeli prison, in addition to transferring what it regards as "strike leaders" to various other prisons, and forced many of them into solitary confinement.

Some 740 Palestinians are held in administrative detention, according to Qaraqe.

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Barghouti, a leader of the 2000 Palestinian uprising, is serving five life terms after being convicted by an Israeli court of directing two shooting attacks and a bombing that killed five people, including three Israelis.

An article by Mr Barghouti was published in the New York Times global edition on Monday, Palestinian Prisoners' Day.

PNA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah declared his support for the hunger strike that demands prisoners have their basic needs and rights met.

"Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence", Barghouti said.

However, Israeli troops and settlers had pulled out of the Gaza strip in 2005. "They were brought to justice and are treated properly under worldwide law".

Barghouti has spent 15 years in prison since being arrested by Israeli forces in 2002, during the Second Intifada, as leader of the ruling Fatah faction's military wing.

Opinion polls suggest Barghouti is the top contender to succeed Mr Abbas as president.

Secretary General of the OIC Yousef Al-Othaimeen affirmed the organization's support for the legitimate demands of Palestinian prisoners and their continued efforts to achieve freedom, justice, and dignity for them.

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