A senior Israeli official says the regime will not enter negotiations with Palestinian prisoners who have launched an open-ended hunger strike in protest at harsh prison conditions and restrictions on family visits.
Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said on Tuesday that he believes the strike is politically motivated, and that he sees no legitimacy for the prisoners’ action.
“My policy is that you can’t negotiate with prisoners such as these… There is no reason to give them additional conditions in addition to what they already receive,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.
‘Strike leader sent to solitary’
Erdan said the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike leader, Marwan Barghouti, has been transferred to another prison in northern Israeli-occupied territories and placed in solitary confinement.
“It doesn’t have to do with publishing the article (in The New York Times) but rather that he is instigating mutiny and leading the hunger strike and that is a severe violation of the rules of the prison,” the Israeli minister claimed.
In an opinion piece published in The New York Times earlier this week, Barghouti wrote that Palestinian prisoners and inmates in Israel “have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence.” He said he organized the hunger strike to fight back after all other options failed to produce results.
In this January 25, 2012 file photo, jailed senior Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti appears at a court in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds. (Photo by AP)
Family visits suspended
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has suspended family visitation rights to hunger striking Palestinian prisoners.
An unnamed source from the ICRC said the Geneva-based humanitarian institution had been notified that visits for Palestinian prisoners would be forbidden until further notice in response to the strike.
Palestine’s official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Tuesday that some 1,500 prisoners from all Palestinian political factions are taking part in the open-ended hunger strike.
On April 13, the London-based prominent rights group Amnesty International called on the Tel Aviv regime to end “unlawful and cruel” policies towards Palestinian prisoners.
“Israel’s ruthless policy of holding Palestinian prisoners arrested in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in prisons … is a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“It is unlawful and cruel and the consequences for the imprisoned person and their loved ones, who are often deprived from seeing them for months, and at times for years on end, can be devastating,” Mughrabi added.
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