Palestinian mass hunger strike takes dramatic turn

Palestinian President Abbas attends opening of Center via teleconference with Bethlehem before meeting with Russian President Putin at Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi

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Groups of Chileans gathered to support the Palestine prisoners' hunger strike, which has been ongoing for nearly a month, across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

An increasing number of prominent Palestinian political leaders, such as Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine general secretary Ahmad Sa'adat and Nael Barghouthi, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner, have joined the strike.

The Palestinian hunger strikers are entering their 27th day of the fast, with demands that include a right to family visits, proper medical care, an end to detention without charge and trial and axing solitary confinement.

Israel's prison service have not commented on the matter, however officials previously rejected the idea of negotiations.

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The West Bank and Gaza have not participated in an election together since 2006, when Hamas swept Palestinian parliamentary polls, sparking a conflict that led to near civil war in Gaza the following year.

According to Palestinian figures, Israel is now holding more than 6,500 Palestinians - including scores of women and children - at 24 detention centers across the country.

A few days into the hunger strike, which started on April 17, a group of Israeli settlers held a barbecue outside Ofer prison in an effort to taunt and demoralise the prisoners.

Meanwhile, Barghouti's lawyer, Khader Shkirat, said the Israel Prison Service abruptly canceled a planned prison meeting with his client that had been scheduled for Thursday.

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It has many inside Israel, as well as one in the settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank.

Librati said "we thought it's important for the public to see the behavior of the hunger strike leader", but he did not address the privacy issue.

Barghouti's wife, Fadwa, has denounced the video, claiming it was "fabricated" and is part of an Israeli strategy to discredit her husband.

"Instead of helping us turn to the young generation of Arab society and call on them to join the police and save lives, Ayman Odeh once again proves that what is really important to him is not really the good of Israeli Arabs, but to support enemies of the country", Erdan added.

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Sabbagh's hope is that the plight of the prisoners moves the worldwide community to put legal pressure on Israel.

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