Palestinians on hunger strike
Palestinian prisoners from major Israeli detention facilities began an indefinite hunger strike on September 27 to protest against deteriorating conditions of detention.
The strike was formally announced by prisoners in a letter to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali on September 25. According to the letter, prisoners say they have "exhausted all other means of negotiating" for better conditions.
They are demanding a halt to long periods of solitary confinement, the closure of special underground punishment sections where dungeon conditions prevail, a reinstatement of adequate food rations, a halt to overcrowding, access to proper medical treatment, and an end to beatings and tear-gassings in the cells and demeaning strip searches.
This is the first reported all-prison hunger strike by Palestinians in Israeli prisons since March 1987, and indicates a serious deterioration in conditions.
An estimated 12,500 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli detention centres and prisons; 500-1000 more may be held under short detention orders and not registered in detention centres or police lockups.
Roughly two-thirds of the prisoners are incarcerated in detention camps operated by the Israeli army and military police, where they can be held for several years in tents or other temporary structures. The remaining one-third are held in prisons operated by the civilian Israeli Prison Services, where they are locked in small cells for 21 to 24 hours per day. Cells are typically filthy, overcrowded and lack adequate ventilation.