1,400 Palestinians in Israel jails to hold hunger strike
Almost 1,400 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons are to go on hunger strike in protest at their detention conditions since a jailbreak last week, the Palestinian Authority said Tuesday.
Tensions have been running high since six inmates staged a dramatic escape from a high-security jail in northern Israel on September 6, via a tunnel dug under a sink. Four of them have since been recaptured.
Hundreds of their fellow inmates were transferred to other jails and personal items confiscated in searches carried out by guards, according to the Palestinian Prisoners' Club.
Angry prisoners started fires in several jails.
"The situation is very bad in the prisons, that's why they're going on hunger strike," Qadri Abu Bakr, head of the Palestinian Authority's commission for prisoners, told AFP.
He said 1,380 prisoners -- of more than 4,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails -- were to start the strike action on Friday, to be joined by other inmates next week.
Abu Bakr added that talks between the Israeli prison authorities and prisoner representatives had made no progress so far.
The Red Cross has said Israel has decided to allow visits to prisoners, after they were suspended last week.
But Abu Bakr expressed concern over the fate of the four escapees, who the Red Cross has not been allowed to visit.
Palestinian lawyer Khaled Mahjana told AFP he would meet two of the four -- Yaqub Qadri and Mohammad Ardah -- on Tuesday evening.
Abu Bakr also expressed fears for the health of another recaptured fugitive, Zakaria Zubeidi, after social media reports he had been sent to hospital.
Prison authorities said Monday that he was still in custody and had not been hospitalised.