Blair says urged Israel to prevent prisoner tragedy
Published Saturday 12/05/2012 (updated) 14/05/2012 12:39
Tony Blair pictured speaking in Bethlehem in 2010.(MaanImages/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Quartet envoy Tony Blair said Saturday that he was urging Israel to prevent a tragedy as two hunger-strikers entered their 75th day without food.
Blair said he was "increasingly concerned about the deteriorating health conditions" of prisoners on hunger-strike in Israeli jails, according to a statement from his Jerusalem office.
The representative of the diplomatic Quartet said in recent days he had "engaged Israeli officials at all levels urging them to take all necessary measures to prevent a tragic outcome that could have serious implications for stability and security conditions on the ground."
Blair also said he urged authorities to respect prisoners' human rights, provide necessary medical assistance, and legal recourse to due process.
Last week, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said President Mahmoud Abbas had asked Quartet envoy Tony Blair to urgently intervene in Israel's treatment of Palestinian prisoners.
Bilal Diab, 27, from Jenin, and Thaer Halahla, 33, from Hebron, have refused food since Feb. 29. The International Committee of the Red Cross and Physicians for Human Rights - Israel have urged Israel to transfer the prisoners to hospital.
Both are being held in administrative detention -- without charge.
In the past month, around 2,000 prisoners joined a group of administrative detainees on hunger-strike, according to prisoners groups' estimates.
They are calling for improved conditions in Israeli custody, such as an end to solitary confinement and bans on family visits, in addition to ending administrative detention.