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452 Palestinians have spent 21 years in Israeli jails

Tensions grow between Palestinian prisoners and Israeli authorities as number of detainees rise
2 min read
West Bank
18 September, 2023
Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails continue to be at the edge of confrontation with Israeli authorities, as detainees without charges reached their highest number in 20 years.
Israel holds about 5,100 Palestinians in its jails, including 1,200 detainees held without charges [Qassam Muaddi/TNA]

Palestinian 'senior prisoners' in Israeli jails' number rose to 452, according to a Palestinian report, after three new prisoners passed 21 years of being held by Israel.

In the report published by the Palestine Center for Prisoners' Research on Sunday, 17 September, the Prisoners' Club said that 51-year-old Othman Abu Kharj from Jenin and 44-year-old Majdi Zaatari and 43-year-old Abdallah Sharabti from Jerusalem completed 21 years in Israeli prison last week.

The director of the centre, Riyadh Al-Ashqar, told Palestinian media that 22 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have been held since before the signature of the Oslo Accords 30 years ago, whom Israel had committed to release, according to the accords.

Palestinian prisoners had been at the centre of Israeli escalation in recent months, amid on-and-off confrontations between Israeli authorities and Palestinian prisoners.

On Thursday, Palestinian prisoners suspended the hunger strike announced to start on 14 September to protest the Israeli security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's decision to reduce family visits, the Palestinian Prisoners' Club said in a statement shared with The New Arab.

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The suspension of the hunger strike came after the Israeli prison services informed the prisoners' leadership that Ben-Gvir's decision would not be implemented.

"The prison services had a meeting with the prisoners' leadership where they told them that the family visits were not going to be reduced", Ayah Shreiteh, spokesperson for the Prisoners' Club, told The New Arab.

"This is a pattern that has been repeated in recent months, where Ben-Gvir escalates confrontation with prisoners while the prison service seeks to maintain stability", said Shreiteh.

"Prisoners mobilised against Ben-Gvir's decisions, but the prison services soon suspended the implementation of those decisions, and the prisoners' protests were suspended", she pointed out.

Simultaneously, two Palestinian detainees continue their separate hunger strikes, protesting their continuous detention by Israeli forces without charges.

Both 34-year-old Kayed Fasfus and 42-year-old Sultan Khlouf have been refusing food for 46 days, demanding the end of their administrative detention. According to his family, Sultan Khlouf faces health complications, including heart complications.

The Prisoners' Club reported that Kayed Fafus also faces health implications from his 113-day-long hunger strike last year, protesting his detention without charges, upon which he was released. Fasfus was re-arrested last May.

Currently, Israel holds around 5,100 Palestinians in its jails, including 1,200 who are held without charges under "administrative detention", according to human rights groups.