Ramallah: The world must take immediate action against
Israel over its detention without charge of 130 Palestinian prisoners on a long-term hunger strike, the Palestinian leadership said on Wednesday.
In a letter addressed to the 28 European Union member states, as well as the governments of Brazil, South Africa and India, the Palestine Liberation Organisation demanded their "immediate intervention" to hold Israel responsible for the health of the prisoners.
Signed by chief negotiator Saeb Erakat, the letter - a copy of which was seen by AFP - said more than 400 prisoners had joined the strike, of whom approximately 130 had been refusing food for more than six weeks.
Most are administrative detainees who are being held without charge for indefinitely renewable six-month periods in a procedure dating back to the British Mandate (1920-1948).
"We call on you to call on Israel to annul the policy of administrative detention and to condition deepening your bilateral ties with Israel pending Israel`s fulfilment of all its obligations," he wrote in English.
A copy was also sent to all the five permanent members of the UN Security Council members and to its 10 non-permanent members - with the exception of Australia, which recently angered the Palestinians by saying it would no longer refer to annexed east Jerusalem as "occupied."
There are currently around 200 Palestinians being held in administrative detention out of an overall 5,000 being held by Israel.
Israel Prisons Service (IPS) spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told AFP the current hunger strike was the longest-ever staged by Palestinians detainees, saying a total of 250 inmates were refusing food. Of that number, 75 were being treated in hospital.
The Israeli chapter of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-IL) today accused the health ministry of actively blocking independent doctors from visiting hunger strikers in hospital.
The NGO in a statement accused the ministry of working with the IPS to implement of "coordinated policy of denying (independent medical) access" to the strikers, in "complete violation of existing legislation and medical ethics."
According to a new ministry directive, prisoners can only get access to an independent physician if they first sign a power of attorney and waiver form. But with prisoners being regularly moved between different hospitals it made such a procedure "an impossible mission," it said.