First Palestinian hunger striker dies, health worsens for prisoners

May 3, 2017
Family members of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails demonstrate in the Old City of Jerusalem, on April 29, 2017, in support of the ongoing hunger strike.

A young Palestinian man became the first victim of the open-ended hunger strike launched 1600 Palestinian political prisoners in the occupied West Bank on May 1. The 30-year-old, identified as Mazan al-Maghrebi, passed away at his home in the city of Ramallah, where he was on hunger strike in solidarity with the prisoners. 

Al-Maghrebi succumbed to a kidney disease after joining the prisoners on hunger strike, the Saba news agency reported. According to the news agency, many hunger strikers, who are being held in the Israeli Ofer prison, suffer from low blood pressure, severe headaches as well as stomach and joint problems.The report also stated that the prisoners are not allowed to drink cool water and are being forced to consume warm water.

Ma’an news agency reported that many prisoners on strike have lost as much as 22 pounds from the time they first started the strike. A recently released former hunger striker, Ayman Bisharat – who was imprisoned for 16 years – told Ma'an that the hunger-striking inmates were in high spirits, determined to achieve their goals and have called on the world to support their “heroic” struggle, although their health continued to deteriorate. 

More than 1600 prisoners joined the hunger strike that began on April 17, marking Palestinian Prisoners' Day. May 2 marked 16 days of the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike in Israeli jails. The strike was originally called by former Fatah movement leader Marwan Barghouti to protest conditions in the prisons.

According to Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners' rights group, there are 6300 Palestinians being held in Israeli jails. Among the prisoners, there are 500 administrative detainees, who have not been charged with or tried for any crimes but are held indefinitely by Israeli authorities.  

Palestinian prisoners in Israel are often subjected to torture and assault. They have undergone hunger strikes, time and again, to protest inhumane conditions in the jails as well as the oppressive administrative detentions – which permit the detainment of prisoners for up to six months without charges. 

Reposted from TeleSUR English

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