Thousands of Palestinian inmates in Israeli jails on Wednesday launched a hunger strike, the Palestinian minister for prisoners said.
"I can confirm that all the prisoners in Israeli prisons have begun a three-day hunger strike, which could be increased, as a kind of warning to the Israeli administration," Issa Qaraqa told reporters in Ramallah.
Qaraqa said the strike was a protest against the policy of solitary confinement, and was called in solidarity with a group of prisoners from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
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"Around 200 prisoners from the PFLP and some others began an open-ended hunger strike yesterday to protest the continued solitary confinement of their secretary general Ahmed Saadat for the last four years," Qaraqa said.
The strike was then extended across all prisons in a collective protest against the policy of solitary confinement, as well as what Qaraqa called a "growing tide" of punitive measures against detainees.
"There are prisoners who have been in solitary confinement for 10 years," he said.
"The prison authorities have imposed harsh penalties and unprecedented measures, pushing the prisoners into a state of rebellion against all the rules in force inside the occupation prisons," he added.
According to figures released by Israeli rights group B'tselem in April, there are 5,380 Palestinians held in Israeli jails, 217 of whom were under 18.