Some 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners have entered day nine of an open-ended hunger strike to protest deteriorating conditions in Israeli jails.

Israeli prison authorities have reacted with punitive measures against the detainees in the six detention facilities taking part in the protest.

The hunger strike – one of the largest in recent years – is led by Marwan Barghouti and enjoys the support from across the political spectrum in Palestine.

GUE/NGL Vice-Chair and Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Palestine Neoklis Sylikiotis expressed support for the demands of the prisoners:

“Israel detains Palestinian political prisoners in conditions that violate their basic human rights. Prisoners are denied family visits, suffer from medical negligence and dozens are detained without charge or trial, for indefinite periods. This is a form of psychological torture that we must not tolerate.”

“Israel continues to ignore international law. The transfer of prisoners outside of the occupied territories into Israel proper violates the Geneva Conventions,” Sylikiotis added.  

GUE/NGL calls on the EU and member states to urgently intervene to ensure that the rights of Palestinian prisoners are protected. Israel must put an end to its criminal and inhuman treatment of prisoners.

The rights of Palestinian prisoners, and especially Palestinian child prisoners, must be a condition in any dialogue with Israel and the EU must urge their immediate release and for international law to be respected.

In September 2016 the Israeli High Court has declared 'constitutional' a bill to allow force-feeding of hunger strikers. The bill will be put to a test for the first time as prisoner’s health conditions continue to deteriorate and pressure on Israel to cede to their demands increases.

Hunger-strikes are a measure of last resort and one of the few peaceful means prisoners have to protest violations of their rights.

The international community must be alert against the threat of force-feeding of hunger strikers, which is widely seen as a form of torture.

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