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EU calls on Israel to improve conditions for Palestinian prisoners

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The European Union said Israel must improve conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton also expressed concern over four Palestinian inmates who have been on a long-term hunger strike.

"The EU calls on the government of Israel to allow for the immediate restoration of their family visiting rights and calls for the full respect of international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian detainees and prisoners," Ashton said in a statement issued Saturday.

Ashton also called on Israel to formally charge the prisoners and bring them "to a fair trial without undue delay." They are  being held in administrative detention, under which a prisoner can be held without charges for up to four months. The administrative detention also can be renewed.

The prisoners reportedly lost their right to have family visits when they embarked on hunger strikes. They have been treated in Israeli hospitals as needed, according to reports.

Palestinians rioted near Ofer Security Prison in the West Bank and throughout the rest of the West Bank on Feb. 15, throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli soldiers in support of the hunger strikers.

One of the prisoners, Samer al-Issawi, has been on a hunger strike for more than 200 days. He was released in the 2011 prisoner swap to free captive soldier Gilad Shalit, but later rearrested.

 

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