Red Cross urges for solution to Palestinian hunger strike

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-26 03:48:16|Editor: yan
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by Xinhua writer Wang Bowen, Liu Xue

JERUSALEM, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Six weeks into a collective hunger strike by Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), called on all concerned parties and authorities to find a solution on Thursday.

In a press release, Dr. Gabriel Salazar, head of ICRC's health department in Israel and the occupied territories, said they have "entered a critical phase" from a medical perspective.

"ICRC doctors have been visiting all the detainees on hunger strike and closely monitoring their situation," said Salazar.

The medical condition of many hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners is deteriorating and many prisoners have been hospitalized over the past two days, representatives of the strikers said Wednesday.

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.

Prisoner Mohammed Alul, who has been on hunger strike since the beginning, told the Palestinian Prisoners Club the prisoners were being held in small rooms with filthy sheets that are filled with bugs.

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and member of the Knesset Yousef Jabareen filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court Wednesday against the decision by the Knesset Committee and the director of the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to impose a blanket ban on meetings between Knesset members and Palestinians classified by Israel as "security prisoners."

In the past several weeks, the IPS has rejected three separate requests made by MK Jabareen to visit a prominent prisoner, Marwan Barghouti, stating only that it would not authorize such a visit.

Attorney Hanan Alhatib said the Israel Prison Service is not supplying information about the prisoners' conditions, and that ambulances are now stationed regularly at the prisons to bring prisoners to the hospital or to the prison clinic.

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.

The ICRC 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.