Most of the 400 prisoners belonging to the Islamic Jihad have started their hunger strike against Israel’s punitive measures.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement has announced the start of a massive hunger strike by its prisoners held in Israeli jails, denying the punitive measures imposed on them following the escape of six Palestinians from Gilboa prison on last month.
Palestinian prisoners are divided into cells according to their political affiliation.
Most of the Islamic Jihad prisoners, numbering around 400, will take part in the strike, with the support of all other factions, which began on Wednesday.
According to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, the hunger strike is part of the “resistance program recently announced by the National Prisoner Emergency Committee, which was based mainly on rebellion and the rejection of prison administration laws” .
The statement said that Islamic Jihad prisoners on Tuesday handed over a letter to the Israeli prison administration, outlining their demands and informing them of their decision to go on hunger strike.
There are approximately 4,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including 35 women and 200 children.
Following the escape of six Palestinian prisoners from Gilboa High Security Prison last month, the Israeli prison service specifically cracked down on prisoners belonging to Islamic Jihad, of which five of the escapees belong.
The escape sparked a massive manhunt for the group which included Zakaria Zubeidi, a former leader of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades armed group and the only member affiliated with the Fatah group.
The six men were all captured in pairs at different times just two weeks after their escape, and face lengthy charges in addition to their original life sentences.
Zubeidi and his fellow prisoner Munadel Infiat had not been convicted at the time of their escape.
After the escape, a number of prisoners belonging to the Islamic Jihad were transferred to solitary confinement and the leaders of the movement were transferred to interrogation cells with the aim of dismantling its structure within Israeli prisons.
Palestinian factions then announced an escalation of the prison administration’s “program of struggle” against the removal of prisoners and its attempt to suppress achievements made by prisoners in past hunger strikes.