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Palestinian prisoners organize hunger strike in Israel

[JURIST] Over 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners in six Israeli prisons embarked on an indefinite hunger strike starting on Monday, in observance of Palestinian Prisoners Day. The strikers say they want [Al Jazeera report] better medical care, more humane transfers between prisons, and the end of "administrative detention" where Palestinians are arrested without knowing why. According to Addameer, a prisoners' rights advocacy group, 500 prisoners [advocacy website] in Israeli jails are administrative detainees. The strike is led by Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted for participating in a terrorist attack against Israel. Israel claims [Times of Israel report] the strikes are a "power play" by Barghouti. Prisoners of diverse political beliefs are participating in the strike, and rallies outside the prisons are expected to occur in solidarity.

While Israel and Palestine have a troubled past, the issue of settlements in the West Bank have escalated tensions in the last decade. Earlier this month, the UN said [JURIST report] it was disappointed with the Israel settlement decision. In November Israel's Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved [JURIST report] the Formalization Bill to legalize the West Bank outposts. In March 2016 the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said [JURIST report] that the office is concerned about the apparent extra-judicial execution of a Palestinian man in the West Bank. In January of that same year Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged [JURIST report] businesses to cease operations in Israel settlements. In August 2015 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged both sides of the conflict [JURIST report] to reconcile and move towards peace after an attack occurred in the West Bank village of Duma, where Jewish extremists allegedly set fire to a Palestinian home while a family slept inside.

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