Palestinians in Israeli jails launch hunger strike: NGO

Ramallah: Dozens of Palestinians in Israeli jails began a hunger strike on Monday, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club NGO said, a day ahead of an Israeli general election.

A statement from the organisation said the hunger strike was launched after the “failure of negotiations with the occupation’s detainees administration and their refusal of the demands.”

A spokeswoman for the Prisoners’ Club said around 40 inmates were refusing food and that all the major political factions supported their move, including Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah.

The prisoners had been in negotiations regarding conditions in the jails on a range of topics.

Islamist group Hamas in particular has objected to new electronic jammers installed in some of the prisons, intended to block cellphone reception.

There was no immediate response from the Israel Prison Service, which on Sunday had said the background to the discontent was the cellular blockers, which would not be removed.

An official said the blockers would remain in place and that the IPS would “know how to contain a strike,” as they had in the past.

Palestinian prisoners have regularly used hunger strikes to highlight their plight but this could be the largest since April 2017, when some 800 people refused food.

That protest was eventually ended a month later after negotiations.

Israelis go to the polls for fiercely contested parliamentary elections on Tuesday.