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UN Urges Israel to Reach Solution for Hunger Strikers

United Nations Secretary-General calls on Israel to reach a solution “without delay” in the case of hunger-striking terrorist prisoners.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/20/2013, 5:15 AM

Prisoners in Ofer jail (archive)
Prisoners in Ofer jail (archive)
Flash 90

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called on Israel to reach a solution “without delay” in the case of several Palestinian Authority Arab terrorist prisoners who are on hunger strike.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over the rapidly deteriorating condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody who are on hunger strike, in particular the critical health condition of one Palestinian detainee, Samer Issawi,” Ban’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said in a statement. 

Nesirky said that Ban received a letter on the issue from PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as well as from the Secretary-General of the Arab League. 

“He has also expressed his concerns to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in their recent telephone conversation,” said the spokesman, adding, “Of particular concern are the detainees held in administrative detention without charges. Those detained should be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or be promptly released.”

Ban “urges for a solution to be reached without delay in order to resolve the prisoners' plight and preserve calm,” said Nesirky.

Along with Issawi, three other terrorist prisoners are currently on a long-term hunger strike: Tareq Qaadan, Jafar Ezzedine and Ayman Sharawna.

PA Arab terrorist prisoners have turned hunger striking into a pressure tactic aimed at forcing Israel to release them out of fear for their lives.

Israel has several times in the past caved to the pressure and released some hunger strikers. The latest case of hunger strikers has resulted in a chorus of protests from around the world about their condition.

A Jerusalem court on Tuesday refused bail for Issawi. He is likely to be indicted at a new hearing on Thursday, his lawyer told AFP.

Issawi was released from Israeli detention under a prisoner swap deal in October 2011 which saw the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, but was rearrested in July after he violated the agreement by going to the PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria.

On Saturday, the European Union called for Israel's "full respect of international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian detainees and prisoners."

The statement came from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who in the past seemed to suggest in a statement that PA Arabs have the right to throw stones at security forces during non-violent protests.

Last week Abbas called on the international community to intervene urgently in support of the hunger striking prisoners, warning that “things may get out of control” if it does not intervene.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, hundreds of terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails refused all food in solidarity with the four hunger strikers, officials told AFP.

According to the Ramallah-based Prisoners' Club, 800 prisoners in three prisons were taking part in the one-day strike, among them members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

Sivan Weizman, a spokeswoman for the Israel Prisons Service (IPS), confirmed hundreds of prisoners had refused their breakfast but put the number at 500 inmates in two facilities.