UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] voiced concern [UN press release] on Wednesday over the treatment of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. The health of hundreds of prisoners has been declining, according to the commissioner’s statement, released on the thirty-eighth day of the strike. Israeli Prison Service has transported more than 60 prisoners to hospitals due to the strike, and 592 more prisoners are under medical supervision within the prisons. The strike began in protest of administrative detention, solitary confinement, and poor healthcare within the prisons. Zeid said, “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. … The right of detainees to access a lawyer is a fundamental protection in international human rights law that should never be curtailed.”
While Israel and Palestine have a troubled past, the issue of settlements in the West Bank have escalated tensions in the last decade. The indefinite hunger strikes in six Israeli prisons began [JURIST report] in April in observance of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Some Israeli officials claimed the strikes were a “power play” as they were started by a prisoner convicted of a terrorist attack. Earlier in April 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.