By Mohammed Mar’i
September 28, 2011
RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Minister of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Issa Qaraqi’ on Tuesday said that Palestinian and Arab prisoners have gone on a hunger strike to protest the Israeli Prison Service’s (IPS) measures against them and their families.
Qaraqi’ said in a statement that the prisoners currently held in 23 prisons and detention camps in Israel and in the West Bank “returned their breakfast meals to protest deliberate violation of their basic rights by the IPS.” He added that the strike began after their representatives’ meeting with Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch in the Nafha (Rimon) prison to discuss the violation failed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided in June to revoke the prisoners’ privileges in order to pressure Hamas into releasing kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Qaraqi’ said the IPS is barring Palestinian prisoners, mainly those in solitary confinement, from family visits, access to education, telephones and satellite channels. The IPS, the minister said, blocks the entry of clothes into prisons and imposes financial fines on prisoners.
The minister said that the prisoners “are subjected to medical negligence and prevented from receiving appropriate medical treatment in hospitals.”
According to Qaraqi’, the strikers want better-quality food and cessation of strip searches of their relatives during the visits.
He added that the prisoners would start “civil disobedience if their demands were not met.”
The minister called on human rights groups and the International Red Cross to intervene and put pressure on the Israeli authorities to stop violations against the prisoners and their families.
Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official said on Tuesday the Palestinian Authority (PA) would use modern technology as part of its peaceful resistance against the Israeli occupation.
Sabri Saidam, President Mahmoud Abbas’ adviser for Telecommunications and Information, told the Ma’an news agency that the Palestinians would “adopt qualitative projects to end occupation using modern technology.”
Saidam added that the “Palestinians will seek to use social networks to organize campaign for boycotting Israeli products in addition to the existing boycott of products coming from Jewish settlements.”
He added that the Palestinians will also “increase pressure on Israeli academic institutions by demanding that universities worldwide, and especially in countries that support us, sever academic ties with Israeli institutions.”
The official said the Palestinians would also organize popular protests “more civilized than the ones in the Arab world.”
The PA hopes that the boycott will encourage the international community to adopt a stronger stance against settlements while helping to end the Palestinian economy’s dependence on Israel.
Israeli sources said at least 17 factories had shut down since the PA launched its campaign of boycotting the settlement products.