Palestinian prisoners to begin open-ended hunger strike over new restrictions
Palestinian prisoners jailed by Israel are set to begin an open-ended hunger strike in protest against far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s decision to limit family visits to once every two months, the Supreme Emergency Committee of the Prisoner National Movement announced on Sunday.
The committee said in a statement that the strike will begin on September 14 to demand the restoration of rights denied by new draconian policies, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
New restrictions pushed by Ben-Gvir restrict visits to once every two months for "security" prisoners, most of whom are Palestinian, according to Israeli media.
Israeli jail authorities' formal policy provides for visits once every two months, but monthly visits have become standard.
In response to the decision, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urged Israel to uphold prisoners' rights in line with international law.
"Under international humanitarian law (IHL), Palestinian detainees are protected persons and have a right to family contact. This includes family visits while in detention," the local ICRC delegation said in a statement posted on Friday to X, formerly called Twitter.
Last week, an amendment by Ben-Gvir blocked the early release of security prisoners, changing a law that had allowed for the early release of all prisoners with sentences of up to three years.
Since becoming security minister, Ben-Gvir has tried to introduce a number of sanctions on Palestinian prisoners. In February this year, it was reported that the minister sought to limit shower times for Palestinian prisoners.
The far-right minister has said he is seeking to worsen the lives of what he called "terrorists" in Israel’s prisons, adding that there’s "still more to do."
Ben-Gvir, who has a history of making inflammatory and racist comments about Palestinians, imposed a four-minute showering period on Palestinian detainees, as a part of a move to rid of what he called "luxury conditions" for Palestinians in Israeli jails.