Freedom and Dignity strike enters 21 days

BETHLEHEM, PALESTINOW.COM — A mass hunger strike underway in Israeli prisons rounded off its third week on Sunday, as Israeli authorities have maintained a severe crackdown on prisoners who are refusing meals, while the medical conditions of numerous hunger strikers continued to decline.
An increasing number of strikers have reportedly experienced loss of balance, muscle atrophy, and heavy fatigue.
Since approximately 1,500 political prisoners launched the open-ended hunger strike on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, April 17, in demand of basic rights, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has also imposed a range of repressive measures in an attempt to quash the hunger strike.
Many hunger strikers have notably landed in solitary confinement, and scores of others have been dispersed throughout Israel’s network of prisons. Arbitrary prison transfers are a common IPS tactic aiming to suppress resistance among Palestinian prisoners.

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Some prisoners have been transferred four times since the strike began, according to Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun.
The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs reported on Sunday that 30 Palestinian prisoners were transferred from various prisons across Israel to Ashkelon prison in Israel’s southern district.
Among those transferred were Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Ahmad Saadat, head of Hamas’ prisoners leadership committee Abbas al-Sayyid, prominent former hunger striker and journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, longest-held Palestinian prisoner Nael Barghouthi, and PFLP leader Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh — who all joined the strike on its 18th day on Thursday.
Samidoun also reported that IPS planned to transfer 100 prisoners from Ohalei Kedar prison to Section 10 in Eshel prison on Sunday.

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The media committee of the hunger strike meanwhile said that IPS officials in the Ramle prison had refused to send hunger-striking prisoners whose healths had seriously deteriorated to the hospital.
The committee quoted hunger-striking prisoners Ammar Mardi and Ratib Hreibat, whom a PPS lawyer was able to in Ramle for the first time on Sunday, as saying that IPS kept the hunger strikers in “prison cells that lack the simplest conditions for human life.”
The two prisoners told their lawyer that IPS forces stormed their cells every day in an attempt to “exhaust them, provoke them, and coerce them into ending their hunger strike.”
The prisoners added that they had only been allowed to access the prison courtyard three times since the beginning of the strike three weeks ago. (MAAN)

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