GENEVA, May 24 (Xinhua) -- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein expressed concern on Wednesday as a mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons entered its 38th day.
"I am especially alarmed by reports of punitive measures by the Israeli authorities against the hunger strikers, including restricted access to lawyers and the denial of family visits," Zeid said.
More than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike on April 17, demanding an end to administrative detention and solitary confinement, and an increase in the number and length of family visits and improved access to health care.
Initial reports showed that the Israel Prison Service had evacuated at least 60 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners to hospitals because their medical condition had worsened, while another 592 hunger strikers had recently been moved for observation to infirmaries set up in the prisons.
The International Committee of the Red Cross also noted in a recent statement that the right to family visits is enshrined in the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and should never be restricted for punitive reasons.
According to UN figures, an estimated 6,300 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli prisons.