1,400 Palestinian prisoners to plan mass hunger strike

Hunger strike protests prison system crackdown, triggered by last week’s jailbreak.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Some 1,400 Palestinian prisoners are gearing up for a mass hunger strike, the Palestinian Authority announced in a statement on Tuesday.

The hunger strike is in protest of an Israel Prison Service crackdown, which was triggered by last week’s escape of six prisoners from the Gilboa Prison, in northern Israel. Five were members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization while one was a commander in the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Four were caught over the weekend. A manhunt for the remaining two continues.

In response to the jailbreak, Israel’s prisons commissioner beefed up security, including cancelling all family visits for security prisoners and transferring hundreds of prisoners from facilities in Israel’s north to the south.

While family visits have since been reinstated, Palestinian prisoners staged violent riots and set fire to their cells in protest of the transfers.

Since the breakout, Israel has seen a number of serious security disturbances, including three consecutive days of rocket fire on southern Israel communities, stabbing attacks in the Jerusalem-area and attacks on settlers in Judea and Samaria.

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A spokesman for the prisoners said that physically attacking prison staff is justified, citing “violent repression” from Israeli security forces.

Last week, Palestinian terror groups including Hamas and Islamic Jihad called for a day of rage in protest of the stricter prison policies.

They called the new measures “repressive” and provocative enough to spark “a new intifada.”

A Palestinian Authority source told the Jerusalem Post that “Israel is playing with fire. The issue of the prisoners is extremely sensitive. The situation is very dangerous.”

A Palestinian Foreign Ministry statement said the new Israeli policies are tantamount to “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”