Israel fears that the death of any Palestinian prisoner, as a result of the ongoing hunger strike, which has entered its 21st day, may lead to renewed violence in the territories, the the online edition of Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported on Monday.
As many as 1,600 Palestinian prisoners are protesting against the conditions that they are undergoing in the Israeli jails, which were significantly worsened while Gilad Shalit was held captive by Hamas in Gaza.
The prisoners demand an end to solitary confinement, an end to administrative detentions and reinstating family visits from Gaza, the Ynet reported.
The Israel Prison Service has agreed to give the prisoners some of their privileges back, but has not accepted their demand to end the administrative detention policy.
One of the Palestinian prisoner, Bilal Diab, has been refusing food and medications for 70 days and was transferred to the hospital last week after his health condition deteriorated.
Another prisoner, Khader Adnan, refused food for more than two months, but ended his strike after Israel agreed to release him from administrative detention.
He was the first to launch a hunger strike. He had said that “the hunger strike will be considered a success in any case, regardless of whether the prisoners’ demands are met or if they die in prison.”
“If they die, the victory will be even greater,” he said. “In any case, Israel will be held responsible,” Adnan was quoted as saying by the Ynet.
“The death of one of the Palestinian prisoners would trigger violence in the territories,” Ziad Abu Ein, Palestinian deputy minister of prisoners’ affairs, was quoted as saying by the Ynet.
He said that the hunger strikers have called on Hamas’ armed wing to kidnap soldiers in order to advance their release.
Meanwhile, the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad threatened to resume its rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza should one of the prisoners die.
On Friday, a leader of the Islamist Hamas movement warned Israel there would be consequences if any of the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike dies in jail.
“You must realize that the hunger strike isn’t a party, and we could be surprised by the death of some of them,” Khalil al-Haya said at a solidarity tent for the strikers in the center of Gaza City.
“If that happens, you can expect both the expected and the unexpected from us,” he said.
President Mahmoud Abbas last week confirmed that his government intended to bring to the United Nations the case of a mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
“The Palestinian government is determined to again approach the U.N. General Assembly to obtain recognition of a Palestinian state ... and the freeing of prisoners, thousands of whom are on hunger strike,” Abbas said during a visit to Tunisia.
(Written by Abeer Tayel)