Arab terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails threatened to go on a hunger strike beginning April 17th, which is commemorated as “Palestinian Prisoner Day.” Arab media said that the hunger strike was designed to pressure Israel to grant them more rights and privileges — among them being allowed to have access to telephones.
Yediot Acharonot reported that the terrorists have 13 demands, including better and more food, more visits with relatives, and more visits from international medical groups like the Red Cross, which the terrorists are demanding be allowed to visit them twice a month. Most significant for them, security officials say, is the demand that public phones be installed in prisons to allow terrorists to contact families. Representatives of the terrorist prisoners say that the phone calls would not entail a security risk, as they would be monitored by Israel. The entire impact, they say, would be “humanitarian.”
Also critical to the terrorists, a source involved in the discussions said, was the increase of the length of a visit with relatives from 45 to 60 minutes, and allowing all first and second degree relatives to visit even if they have been convicted of terror activity. Currently, such visitors require a special permit. The sources said that the prisoners are willing to compromise on all their demands, except for the phones and the visitations.
Israeli officials said that there was also an element of internal Palestinian politics involved in the hunger strike. The strike, if it takes place, would be led by arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who is currently out of favor with the leadership of the PA in Ramallah. If the strike achieves its goals, the officials said, it would help Barghouti’s political position in Fatah.