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Marwan Barghouti to join detainee hunger strike

Jailed Palestinian leaders Marwan Barghouthi and Ahmad Saadat have announced that they will go on hunger strike May 21, a senior official said. Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Qaraqe said that over 120 Palestinian prisoners, including the two jailed leaders, will go on hunger strike for one day in support of administrative detainees who have been refusing meals for nearly four weeks. The day-long solidarity hunger strike will be a warning to the Israeli Prison Service, urging it to comply with the demands of hunger striking prisoners held without trial, Qaraqe said in a statement. Marwan Barghouti is a key figure in the Palestinian Fatah movement and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Ahmad Saadat is the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Some 120 Palestinian prisoners are currently on hunger strike in protest of their detention without charge or trial in Israeli jails. Most of them started their hunger strike 26 days ago. They are demanding Israel change its policy of administrative detention.

Fifteen administrative detainees have been hospitalized since the strike began on April 24, Qaraqe's statement said. It added that 15 prisoners in Ashkelon prison warned they would join the open hunger strike Sunday if the administrative detainees' demands were not met.

According to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, "unlike a criminal proceeding, administrative detention is not intended to punish a person for an offense already committed, but to thwart a future danger." Said the rights group in a May 11 report: "The entire procedure is secret: administrative detainees are not told the reason for their detention or the specific allegations against them... Since the detainees do not know the evidence against them, they are unable to refute it." 

On May 14, 2012, some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners ended a 27-day hunger strike after reaching a deal with Israel. Under the terms of the deal, around 400 prisoners from Gaza would be allowed receive family visits and administrative detainees would be either freed or charged. Israel also agreed to limit the use of administrative detentions to exceptional cases, but reneged on the deal, renewing the detention of several prisoners and continuing to regularly implement the policy.

From Ma'an News Agency, May 21. 


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