Palestinians on Hunger Strike Taken to Hospital; Abbas Requests US Intervention

Rene Gonzalez of Cuban 5 speaks in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he has asked the United States to mediate on a standoff between Israeli authorities and Palestinian prisoners on a weeks-long hunger strike. He added that the health of hundreds of hunger strikers had "deteriorated significantly".

"I am especially alarmed by reports of punitive measures by the Israeli authorities against the hunger strikers, including restricted access to lawyers and the denial of family visits", Zeid said.

The strikers are demanding basic rights, such as an end to the policies of administrative detention, solitary confinement and deliberate medical negligence. Almost 700 prisoners are now held in administrative detention. Today, that figure has risen to some 500 Palestinian prisoners who are being held without charge or trial in administrative detention.

The right to consult a lawyer is a fundamental protection in global human rights law that should never be violated, Zeid said.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, a group of activists installed tents in the French city of Nantes and declared a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.

Greenblatt is in Israel and the Palestinian territories to follow up on Trump's visit earlier in the week and to build on his plans for a new Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, according to Israeli media.

Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Qaraqe said in a statement on Thursday that the health conditions of the hunger strikers have become "very critical", and expressed his concern over possible deaths of the prisoners if Israel Prison Service (IPS) continued to refuse their demands.

An estimated 6,300 Palestinians are now being held in Israeli prisons, mostly outside the occupied Palestinian territory, in contravention of article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are now being held in Israeli jails, 536 of them arbitrarily, according to figures provided by the Palestinian prisoners' rights group, Addameer, in January. Israel has maintained that their treatment is in accordance with global standards and that real motive for the strike is political. It said that under worldwide law, the visits "can only be limited for security reasons, on a case by case basis, but never for strictly punitive or disciplinary purposes".

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