Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh calls on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners
Describing the mass hunger strike by Palestinians in Israeli jails as a humanitarian struggle, Haniyeh on Monday called on Islamic and Arab countries to be more engaged in the issues of Palestinian prisoners.
His remarks came after Israel’s Supreme Court turned down an appeal requesting the release of two Palestinian prisoners, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla who have been on hunger strike for more than two months.
Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla began refusing food on February 29 in protest to their administrative detention, a controversial practice used by Tel Aviv, which allows Israeli authorities to hold people, mostly Palestinians, without charge or trial indefinitely.
Meanwhile, political adviser to Haniyeh Yousef Rizqa warned that Israel was trying to use party affiliations to sow discord among the prisoners on hunger strike.
An estimated 1,600 to 2,000 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike on April 17 to protest against Israel’s administrative detention rules, the use of solitary confinement, maltreatment of sick detainees, and difficulty in securing family visits and strip searches that are imposed on visitors.
According to an April 1, 2012 report published by the non-governmental Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association, Addameer, at least 4,610 “political” Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli jails.
Addameer figures show 322 of the Palestinian prisoners are administrative detainees.
Independent sources, however, put the number of Palestinian inmates in Israeli jails at 11,000.