West Bank and Gaza shutdown in support of Palestinian prisoners

A French national residing in Israel prepares to cast his vote for the first round of the French presidential election

Schools, banks and businesses across the West Bank were closed on Thursday as Palestinians observed a general strike in solidarity with more than 1,500 prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails.

At a protest camp near the Old City in Ramallah, dozens of young men sat on plastic chairs surrounded by images of prisoners on strike as loudspeakers blasted songs about Palestinian detainees. "He has been in prison for 13 years", Rashidi said.

Qaraqea said in an interview with the WAFA news agency that the health condition of the majority of the prisoners being on hunger strike since April 17 had significantly deteriorated, and some of them had been transferred to hospitals.

Hundreds of Palestinians rally in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners, Nablus, April 27, 2017.

Israeli media say the cost is about $11m a month, which Israel deducts from tax revenue collected on behalf of the PA.

Netanyahu had an often tense relationship with Obama over the 2015 USA -backed Iran nuclear deal and Israeli settlement building on occupied land that Palestinians want for a state. "This is particularly important in Gaza to allow the construction of a high-voltage line from Israel to contribute to the relief of the energy crisis".

The letter was written to parliamentarians around the world and distributed to the Security Council members as part of Barghouti's efforts to lead the Palestinian security prisoners strike.

"Israeli authorities do not always agree with our findings, but, in facilitating the ability of our staff to carry out our research and documentation, they have taken an important step to safeguard the principle of transparency and demonstrate their openness to criticism".

Some 6,500 Palestinians are now detained by Israel for a range of terror offenses and crimes.

A series of demonstrations have been held in the West Bank in support of the prisoners, occasionally resulting in clashes with Israeli forces.

But Israel said the move by the prisoners, many of whom were allegedly convicted of attacks or planning attacks against Israel, was politically motivated.

"It represents a development in Hamas' political ideology", said Mr al-Haya. Under Israeli military law, all protest by Palestinians is illegal in the West Bank.

Israeli prisons hold some 7,000 Palestinians, including 300 minors. The hunger strikers are demanding better conditions, more contact with relatives, and an end to Israel's practice of detention without charge or trial. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events.

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