Thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails have begun a mass hunger strike against detention conditions. The protest that came in news in April 2017 is being led by Marwan Barghouti, a leader of the mainstream Fatah movement of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Marwan Barghouti, 58, was jailed by Israel for life for murders of Israelis during the 2000 to 2005 uprising. Reports suggest that he is widely seen as a possible future Palestinian president.
Why the protest?
The open-ended strike of Palestinians is in response to the poor conditions and the Israeli policy of detention, in which they are being jailed since the 1980s without any trial. They also have a demand for better medical treatment and calls for freedom of inmates who are suffering from chronic diseases or are the disabled ones.
Israel said the move by the prisoners, many of whom were convicted of attacks or planning attacks against Israel, was politically motivated.
Palestinians termed the open-ended strike a protest against poor conditions and an Israeli policy of detention without trial that has been applied against thousands since the 1980s. According to Palestinian prisoners' groups, there were about 7000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
Qadoura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club said about 6500 Palestinians are being held in 22 Israeli prisons. Palestinian Prisoners' Club is an organisation that advocates on behalf of the inmates.
Comment: If this hunger strike stays for a long time than it would create a challenge for the Israeli government as it will raise tensions between the two sides. Israeli side will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its occupation in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in June 2017.
However, Israeli troops and settlers had pulled out of the Gaza strip in 2005. The strip is now controlled by Hamas Islamists.