Palestinians on Hunger Strike Taken to Hospital; Abbas Requests U.S. Intervention

GENEVA/YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters/Hamodia) -

Israeli prison authorities transferred 182 hunger-striking security prisoners to hospitals on Thursday to assess their medical conditions, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked the U.S. to intervene and the U.N. expressed alarm.

The transferred prisoners represent a total of 836 who remain on strike to press their demands for better treatment. Israel has maintained that their treatment is in accordance with international standards and that real motive for the strike is political.

Abbas reportedly asked White House Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt to use his influence to ameliorate the situation.

“We asked the American side to intervene in guaranteeing [our] prisoners’ rights and achieving their humane demands,” Abbas told the Fatah Central Committee on Thursday, according to official PA media.

It also said that Abbas and Greenblatt met on Thursday morning for the second time this week and discussed the strike.

The 182 will be examined by hospital staff, and then it will be determined whether their medical conditions warrant hospitalization, or they should be sent back to jail.

Hamas called for “a day of rage” on Friday to support the strikers.

The top United Nations human-rights official urged Israel on Wednesday to improve conditions for Palestinians in custody, especially the more than 1,000 whose hunger-strike was into its 38th day.

“I am especially alarmed by reports of punitive measures by the Israeli authorities against the hunger strikers, including restricted access to lawyers and the denial of family visits,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

He added that the health of hundreds of the hunger-strikers had “deteriorated significantly.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which visits Palestinian detainees, urged Israel early this month to allow family visits. Under international law, these “can only be limited for security reasons, on a case-by-case basis, but never for strictly punitive or disciplinary purposes,” it said.