Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli jails are beginning a mass hunger strike in protest against their conditions. The action is being led by Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader jailed by Israel for life for five murders.
Barghouti, a key figure in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, has been touted as a possible future successor to Mr Abbas. There are fears the protest could fuel tensions across the occupied West Bank.
According to Israeli media reports, at least seven hundred prisoners affiliated to the Fatah movement are joining the hunger strike, which coincides with the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day. The issue of Palestinians held in Israeli jails is an ongoing source of tension between the two sides.
Palestinians regard the detainees as political prisoners, many of whom have been convicted of attacks against Israeli and other offences. There were about seven thousand Palestinians held in Israeli jails by the end of last year, according to Palestinian prisoners’ groups.