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Palestinian prisoners escalate hunger strike in Israel jails

Palestinian prisoners escalate hunger strike in Israel jails
11-05-2012,23:12

GAZA (Agencies) - Hundreds of Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli jails said on Friday they would shun vitamin supplements and prison clinics in an escalation of their mass protest against detention conditions.

"We swear we will not retreat. We are potential martyrs. Either we live in dignity or die," prisoner organisers said in a letter announcing the move and which was read out by Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip, during a demonstration.

An estimated 1,600 inmates out of 4,800 launched the hunger strike on April 17 to demand improved conditions in Israeli prisons, such as an end to solitary confinement and more family visits. They have also challenged Israel's policy of indefinite detention without charge of suspected Palestinian militants.

The fate of the hunger strikers has touched a raw nerve among Palestinians, with daily support rallies in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, and political leaders warning that Israel could face new violence should any prisoner die.

Dozens of Palestinians, including politicians who had served terms in Israeli jails in the past, have gone on hunger strikes in tents put up in solidarity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which witnessed daily heavy attendance by residents and visitors from Arab and foreign countries.

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