Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike swells | Reuters -
May 4, 2012
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday his government would refer the issue of prisoners to the United Nations, internationalizing a campaign in which all the often divided and acrimonious Palestinian factions are taking part. "In prison, hunger is the only weapon ... my brother is defending not just his own rights and honor, but those of the whole Palestinian people," said Bassam Diab, a former detainee and brother of jailed hunger strikers Bilal and Azzam Diab. Israeli prisons commissioner Aharon Franco has named a panel to address the hunger strikers' demands, and on Monday told Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader once convicted by Israel of murder, Palestinian officials said. "The director of prisons communicated that the prison administration would study seriously their demands and will respond to them after a short time," said Qaddoura Fares, chairman of the main Palestinian prisoners's organization. Sivan Weizman, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Prisons Authority, said the Israeli panel was set up before the hunger strike was launched but confirmed Franco had told prisoners he would review the committee's recommendations. Israeli authorities say some 1,450 prisoners are on hunger strike. Palestinian sources give varying figures, all well over 1,000. There are more than 4,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, of whom around 320 are held in "administrative detention", or jailed without trial, a security measure Israel defends as a precaution to protect undercover sources. Many however have been convicted in open proceedings of killing Israeli civilians or plotting attacks. "STONES, GUNS, HUNGER" At the forefront of the new wave of hunger strikes are members of Islamic Jihad, proscribed by Israel and other governments as a terrorist organization. "God holds the decision: sometimes we are called to resist with stones, sometimes with guns, and other times through hunger and perseverance," Khader Adnan, a leader of Islamic Jihad and survivor of...
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