Some 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel launched a mass hunger strike on Monday to press for basic rights and shed light on the difficult humanitarian conditions inside Israeli prisons.
The open-ended hunger strike, one of the largest in recent years, coincides with Palestinian Prisoners Day, annually commemorated on April 17. Led by jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, the strike will see Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum participate from within six prisons inside Israel.
"They have central demands and will continue to fast until they achieve them. The prisoners see hunger striking as the only door they can knock on to attain their rights," Amina al-Taweel, spokesperson for the Hebron-based Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies, told Al Jazeera.
“Even though it is one of the most dangerous and difficult decisions, they are only making this choice because conditions [inside the prisons] have reached a new low,” said al-Taweel.
There are currently 6,500 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel, including more than 500 administrative detainees.
Prisoners' demands include installation of a public telephone in all prisons to allow communication with relatives, resuming bi-monthly family visits, allowing second-degree relatives to visit, increasing duration of the visits and allowing prisoners to take photographs with their families.
Many prisoners suffer from medical negligence in jails. Prisoners must pay for their own medical treatment, and are not provided with the adequate health care. Sick prisoners have also reported being denied water.