Israel Isolates Hunger Striking Detainees

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Hundreds of Palestinians jailed in Israeli prisons launched a hunger strike today, demanding to improve their captivity conditions, in one of the largest protests in recent years, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

The hunger strike is a way of "bringing prisoners closer to their basic rights and demands and preventing the occupation from harming the dignity of the Palestinian prisoners", he said in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the New York Times after the newspaper published an op-ed written by Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti.

The strike also comes at a hard time for the Palestinian Authority, whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is aging and unpopular.

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Protests in support of the prisoners were held in the occupied West Bank on the first day of the strike on Monday, with youths clashing with Israeli security forces in Bethlehem.

Palestine views the inmates as political prisoners, while Israel has charged them with attacking nationals and other grave offences.

As many as 1.500 prisoners could be participating in the strikes, which have been planned to coincide with the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day.

One cage held two Palestinians in Israeli prison uniform.

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Speaking on Israel's Army Radio, Barghouti's lawyer, Elias Sabbagh, said the plan to launch a hunger strike had been discussed among prisoners for more than a year.

Israeli authorities have ruled out negotiating with the striking Palestinian prisoners. The hunger strike was orchestrated by Marwan Barghouti, who is also the head leader of this movement.

The NGO Palestinian Prisoners' Club said 1,500 people were taking part.

The strike has been called for by prominent Palestinian prisoner and leader Marwan Barghouti, who is now serving a life sentence over his role in the second Palestinian intifada - or uprising. "It is to be emphasized that the (Prisons Service) does not negotiate with prisoners". He later added that Barghouti had been transferred from Hadarim Prison to the Kishon Prison, near Haifa. "They were brought to justice and are treated properly under worldwide law".

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Israeli prison officials reportedly accused Barghouthi of using his wife to "smuggle" the article out of prison and to the New York Times. "If they want to have better conditions they can submit their demands or their requests and the Israeli authorities will decide whether something needs to be changed or not", explained Nahshon. Prisoners' relatives told the humanitarian group that they had not seen their incarcerated family members for years, as Israeli officials frequently refused visits, citing "security grounds".

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