UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged Israel to either charge or release Palestinian Authority Arab detainees “without delay,” according to a report in the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.
Ban reportedly expressed concern for several PA prisoners who have gone on a hunger strike in protest over their administrative detention and stressed “the importance of averting any further deterioration in their condition.”
“(Ban) reiterates that those detained must be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees, or released without delay,” said a statement issued through his spokesman Martin Nesirky.
Hundreds of Palestinian Authority Arab prisoners recently began a hunger strike in solidarity with six inmates who have been starving themselves for more than 45 days.
Two prisoners – both active members of the Islamic Jihad terror organization -- have been fasting for 71 days. One received medical care in a hospital and was returned to prison. The Supreme Court this week rejected an appeal by both to be set free.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned on Wednesday of a “disaster” if any of the Arab prisoners dies while carrying out a hunger strike in an Israeli prison.
Abbas told international reporters the situation is “very dangerous” when the International Committee for the Red Cross urged Israel to immediately transfer six of the hunger strikers to hospital. At least two were reported to be close to death.
"If anyone dies today or tomorrow or in a week, it will be a disaster and no one will be able to control the situation,” Abbas warned in an interview at his office in the PA capital of Ramallah. "I told the Israelis and the Americans that if they do not find a solution for this hunger strike immediately, they will be committing a crime.”
A commander in the Islamic Jihad terror group warned Sunday that the death of any hunger striker in prison will touch off a third intifada.
Ma’an reported that on Wednesday, protesters blocked the entrance to the UN office in Ramallah, slamming the world body for its failure to intervene to save the hunger strikers.
The report added that a group of youth activists, called Palestinians for Dignity, sent a letter to Ban Ki-moon on Monday, urging him to take a “firm and vocal position in opposition to Israel’s abuse and violation of Palestinian prisoners' rights.”
The letter added, “We note with disappointment your silence ever since this protest movement began in December 2011 with Khader Adnan’s arbitrary arrest and subsequent hunger strike.”
“This stands in stark contrast to your vocal and persistent remarks in support of formerly incarcerated Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.”