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570 PA Prisoners Refusing Meals Today

Contrary to various media reports, "over 1,000" Arab security prisoners in Israeli jails are not hunger-striking. In actuality, 570 of them are refusing today's meals, in a one-day demand for more prisoner releases.

First Publish: 8/1/2003, 2:23 PM

Contrary to various media reports, "over 1,000" Arab security prisoners in Israeli jails are not hunger-striking. In fact, says Prison Service Commissioner Yaakov Ganot, only 570 prisoners are involved, "and what they're actually doing is refusing to receive today's meals - which is very different than a hunger-strike."

Several reasons were given for the strike. Palestinian Prisoners Union Chairman Isa Kraka said that it was a response to yesterday's "wounding" of 18 prisoners in the Shikmah Prison in Ashkelon, and that they were striking in solidarity with them.

Yesterday's rioting in the Shikmah prison broke out after a map of the prison was found in the possession of one of the inmates. The guards, suspecting an escape plan, then began a check of all the cells, to which the prisoners objected by rioting. Extra reinforcements were called in to quell the uprising, which they did using tear gas. Eighteen prisoners and five jailers were all lightly hurt in the violence.

"They're doing it 'deluxe,'" Ganot said: "They're drinking water and milk and lots of other stuff." He said that the prison authorities will continue to ensure that total quiet is maintained.

Kraka also said that today's refusal of meals was a protest of the fact that Israel is not serious about releasing prisoners. PA Minister of Prisoner Affairs Hisham Abdel Razek told Itim News Agency that if Israel does not show more flexibility in its stance on the release of prisoners, "they will begin a general uprising throughout the Israeli prison system."

The affected prisons are Shata in the Beit She'an Valley, Eshel in the south, and the Hadarim Prison in the Sharon Valley.