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Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike on prisoner Day

GAZA, April 17 (KUNA) -- Thousands of Palestinian and Arab prisoners held by Israel went on hunger strike on Sunday marking the Palestinian Prisoner Day and the Palestinian leadership affirmed that the cause remained "top priority." The strike was observed by the inmates, including children, women and elderly, at 20 prisons and detention camps, following an identical protest three weeks ago to protest solitary confinement, one of the methods of psychological torture practiced by the Israeli authorities against the prisoners, many of whom have been languishing behind the iron bars for years.
Gaza Strip and the West Bank are expected to witness, later today, various activists in solidarity with the plight of the imprisoned activists, such as demonstrations and activities for honoring of their families.
Palestinian officials, last night, lighted the "the freedom torch" in the town of Qalqiliah in the north of the West Bank, as a gesture of solidarity with Akram Mansour, who has been held behind the bars for 33 years.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Minister for Prisoners Affairs, Issa Qaraea, told Voice of Palestine radio station that the Palestinian Authority has been campaigning internationally for the cause of the prisoners since two years ago.
This campaign is aimed at winning international recognition of them as prisoners of war, indicating that Israelis have been trying to classify this cause as "an isolated domestic affair unnoticed by the international community and free of governance by the international laws." The plight of the Palestinian prisoners will be enlisted in the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly in June with the aim of taking a resolution in their favor, as prisoners of war whose status is governed by the international laws, he disclosed.
The Palestinian Prisoners Day has been observed by the Palestinians since 1974, when Israel set free the first prisoner, Mahmoud Bakr Hijazi. The latter was a fighter in the mainstream movement Fatah, and was nabbed during a guerrilla operation in the Jordan Valley in the 60s.
In a televised statement last night, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas affirmed that the cause of the prisoners remained on top of the priorities for the Palestinian Authority. "We have been raising this issue at all events, international and regional forums and meetings," he said.
Abbas added that the Palestinian side had notified the Israelis that no final settlement could be reached without resolving this plight.
According to a report released by the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners on the national occasion, the number of the inmates reached 6,000, including scores of Arabs of various nationalities.
Up to 820 of these prisoners have been handed down prison sentences for life, once or several times -- including five females.
Among the prisoners, there are 37 women, 245 children, several babies born in detention, in addition to 12 members of the Palestinian legislative assembly.
Four of the prisoners, dubbed "the generals of patience" have been held behind the bars for more than 30 years. They are Nael and Fakhi Al-Barghothi, Akram Mansour and Fouad Al-Razem. (end) mzt.nq.rk KUNA 171132 Apr 11NNNN