Middle East

Palestinian inmates in Israel begin mass hunger strike

Children rally in Gaza City in solidarity with Palestinians held in Israeli jails
Image caption Children in Gaza City rallied in solidarity with the Palestinian inmates held by Israel

More than 1,200 Palestinian inmates held in Israeli jails have begun a hunger strike to protest against what they say are unfair prison conditions.

Another 2,300 Palestinian detainees are refusing food for a day, the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) says.

They are protesting against so-called "administrative detentions", which allow suspects to be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

More than 300 of some 4,700 Palestinian inmates are currently on those charges.

Administrative detention orders are initially given for up to six months, but they can be repeatedly extended.

Tuesday's action is also to mark Palestinian Prisoners' Day, which is being held across the West Bank and Gaza to show solidarity with the inmates.

The Palestinian inmates have vowed that it will be the most determined hunger strike in decades.

However, the IPS says it will not negotiate with the strikers.

"We have coped with hunger strikes in the past and we are prepared to do so again now," IPS spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told the AFP news agency.

The majority of the Palestinian prisoners have been jailed in Israel for various security offences.

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