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Palestinian prisoners

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Maher Al-Akhras, a Palestinian man of 49 who has been detained repeatedly by Israel, is today in Day 78 of a hunger strike that has brought him close to death. Arrested in July without charges and held at an Israeli hospital since September, the West Bank man has refused an offer to be released next month, demanding his release now in the name of all Palestinian detainees.

Palestinian Authority employees wait to withdraw cash from an ATM outside a Bank of Palestine branch in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 2, 2020. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

The latest Israeli military order allows forces to seize funds in Palestinian banks. The political motivation behind this “legal” hogwash is the Israeli desire to punish the Palestinian leadership for refusing to stop making welfare payments to those Palestinians who were, or continue to be, detained in Israeli prisons—political prisoners,—in addition to welfare payments made to families of martyrs. It is important to note that nearly one million Palestinians have gone through the Israeli prison system since the start of Israeli military occupation in 1967.

Palestinians take part in a Palestinian Prisoners' Day protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah

Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails won a small but significant victory April 15 when the Israeli Prison Service agreed to several key demands voiced by 400 prisoners who had been on an open-ended hunger strike. The hunger strikers’ apparent victory came just two days before Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, an observation held annually on April 17 to draw attention to the plight of the thousands of political prisoners held—many for very long terms and many without any fixed term at all—in Israel’s broad network of military prisons.