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Palestinian prisoners continue hunger strike

Ashkelon prison

Hundreds of Palestinian detainees at Ashkelon prison, in Israel's south, continued their hunger strike into a second day July 2 following attacks by prison security forces. Units of Israeli Prison Service raided the facility the day before, firing tear-gas and beating detainees with batons and hoses. Prisoners were later subject to abusive interrogations, strip searches, and other abuses. Following this attack, the inmates decided to go on a three-day hunger strike to protest against the repression, which is part of a policy aimed at pressuring Hamas to release the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.

This prison repression comes after the collapse of negotiations between Israel and Hamas to reach an agreement to exchange prisoners. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on June 23 that he had instructed the Israeli Prison Service to toughen conditions for Palestinian detainees to pressure Hamas.

In a statement released to the media, Ashkelon prisoners described the attack as "barbaric and vicious." The statement says: "The Israeli Prison Service went too far in committing these violations and repressive policy that has been witnessed in the prisons of Ashkelon, Ramon and Ohali Kidar. It is the beginning of a war to defend ourselves, our dignity, and our rights as detainees." The statement adds that "solitary confinements, tougher procedures and strip searches will never intimidate us." (KUNAPalestine Telegraph, July 2)