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
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)
KUNA 171132 Apr 11NNNN