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Nablus enters sixth day of hunger strike as concern for exile looms

by Alistair George

13 October 2011  | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

Six protesters in Nablus completed their fifth day on open hunger strike today in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails.

Palestinian prisoners in several Israeli jails began open hunger strikes, taking only water with salt, on the 27 September 2011 in protest against solitary confinement, restricted visiting hours and harsh prison conditions.  There are now 404 prisoners affiliated to PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) on open hunger strike in Israeli prisons, along with 5 leaders of Hamas, 10 members of Fatah, and 3 people affiliated to other parties.

Myassar Atyani, Director of the Cultural Committee in the PLO’s General Women’s Union, is one of six people on open hunger strike in Nablus.  They are spending the days in tents in the Duwar area of the city to raise awareness of their cause.

“We are on hunger strike in solidarity with the prisoners – they will be happy to hear that people outside are supporting them” she said.

The Nablus hunger strikers are undergoing regular medical checks, and are currently in good health, but they are weak and tired.  Atyani says they intend to continue until the Israeli authorities meet their demands.

Atyani claims that some prisoners on hunger strike have been denied salt for their water, which is vital in keeping the stomach healthy during a prolonged period without food.

She also expressed concern regarding the fate of many of the 1027 Palestinian prisoners about to be released by the Israeli authorities in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas since 2006. Atyani claimed that around 200 of the prisoners would be sent into exile to Turkey and Qatar upon release and that prisoners from the West Bank may be sent to Gaza.

Atyani claims that the protests are enjoying huge support and are bringing the different Palestinian political factions together.  There are reportedly tents with hunger strikers in support of the prison protests across Palestine in Ramallah, Hebron, Qalqilya, Nablus, Gaza, Salfit, and Tulkarem.

At around 5.30pm today a procession of over 50 children beat drums and marched round central Nablus in support of the hunger strikers.  Many of the children held pictures of family members in Israeli prisons.

Alistair George is an activist with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).