Haniyeh: Prisoners have reunited Palestinians
Published Friday 11/05/2012 (updated) 12/05/2012 14:20
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Friday said prisoners had reunited the Palestinian people and would soon achieve victory in their mass hunger strike.
"We are on the brink of victory in the prisoners' strike, and we are ready and willing to sacrifice for our freedom and dignity," Haniyeh told demonstrators after Friday prayers at a sit-in tent in Gaza City.
Rights groups say around 2,000 Palestinians are on hunger strike in Israeli jails. Two detainees held without charge have been on hunger strike for some 73 days and are said to be in serious condition.
Haniyeh told Reuters on Thursday that the strike was a test of Israel's commitment to universal humanitarian principles which must be recognized. He warned that the death of any prisoner would have "negative repercussions", but did not elaborate.
"I do not wish that any prisoner in Israeli jails is martyred and so I demand that they implement international law in respect to the prisoners, who should be regarded as prisoners of war," he said.
Islamic Jihad in Gaza, which has often exempted itself from the tacit truce agreements Hamas has made with Israel, has said it will escalate violence if a prisoner dies.
"We had a meeting with the leadership of the Islamic Jihad and they have confirmed that any negative development in the issue of prisoners would be discussed among the national front and in a meeting for factions," Haniyeh said. "They will not take a unilateral action outside of a national consensus."
Reuters contributed to this report.