“We fervently stand by the prisoners, and warn the Israeli occupation not to harm their lives,” Mohammed Shalah, an Islamic Jihad leader, told Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen television news network on Monday evening.
He added, “The martyrdom of each of the prisoners would aggravate the situation and will spare no one unharmed … The resistance [front] would intervene and take actions to protect [Palestinian] prisoners.”
Shalah noted that Israel is well aware of the fact that Palestinian resistance factions will not leave their loved ones defenseless in the regime’s prisons.
“We will defend the captives with all available means. All options are on the table,” he asserted.
“Our current struggle is not less important than battles fought in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, al-Quds, and elsewhere in Palestinian territories … The resistance will not back down. We are ready to start a direct war in case a Palestinian inmate is martyred,” the Islamic Jihad leader pointed out.
“Prisoners will see that all Palestinian groups and the entire nation are by their side,” Shalah said, stressing that a joint operations room has been set up to monitor the situation of Palestinian detainees.
Back on October 23, the secretary general of the Islamic Jihad resistance movement said the group’s threats to go to war with Israel in support of its prisoners forced the Tel Aviv regime to end its new suppressive policies toward Palestinian detainees and make concessions.
“Some 250 of our inmates went on hunger strike a few days ago in protest at restrictions imposed on them. Our message to the Zionists was very clear: We will respond with force if you do not stop the criminal measures,” Ziad al-Nakhala said during an interview with IRNA news agency in Tehran.
Following our threats, Nakhala said, Israeli officials agreed to make concessions in return for the non-disclosure of the matter, as it could have triggered backlash inside the occupied territories.
The al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad’s military wing, also said in a brief statement on October 14 that it would go to war if Israel did not end the punitive measures imposed on the movement’s prisoners after the heroic escape of six Palestinians from a maximum-security Israeli detention center last month.
“We announce a state of general alert among the ranks of our fighters. We are completely prepared and at the ready,” the statement read.
Nakhala had also said that the Islamic Jihad was prepared to “go to war” with Israel for its members imprisoned in Israeli jails.
“The Islamic Jihad will not leave its members in Zionist prisons to be victims at the hands of the enemy. Accordingly, we will stand with them and support them with everything we have, even if this means we must go to war for their sake,” he said on October 13.
Islamic Jihad official Tareq Ezaddin said on October 22 that “the prisoners decided to suspend the hunger strike after they scored a victory against the administration of the occupation prison authorities.”
“The victory is a turning point in the confrontation with the [Israeli] jailers,” Ezaddin said.
Israeli prison authorities keep Palestinian inmates under deplorable conditions lacking proper hygienic standards. The prisoners have also been subjected to systematic torture, harassment, and repression.
Many Palestinian prisoners have resorted to hunger strikes to protest against harsh prison conditions and Israel’s infamous “administrative detention,” under which the regime incarcerates Palestinians without charge or trial for renewable periods of three to six months.
Currently, there are seven Palestinian prisoners who are on hunger strike. Two of them, Kayed al-Fasfous and Miqdad al-Qawasmi, have been on hunger strike for more than 100 days.
Last month, Qawasmi was admitted to the intensive care unit in Kaplan Medical Center as his health condition deteriorated.