Issa Qaraqe feared that “there might be martyrs” if the strike continues, as more than 100 Palestinian prisoners who began their 38th day of hunger strike on Saturday have been hospitalized.
Most of the prisoners who began refusing meals on April 24 are administrative detainees who are protesting against Israel’s policy of holding them without charge or trial.
Qaraqe said many of the prisoners are suffering from internal bleeding and loss of memory and consciousness, and some are in need of surgery.
He also said that the Israeli Prison Service is still “assaulting” the prisoners, moving them to solitary confinement under “cruel conditions” in order to “exhaust them and break their strike.”
Israeli Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weissman confirmed that some of the hunger strikers were being held in solitary confinement, without providing any more details.
Qaraqe called upon Arab leaders to “urgently intervene and prevent the tragedy that is about to be made by Israel” during his remarks, which were made during a lecture at al-Zaytoonah University in Jordan.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said in a statement Saturday that another prisoner had been moved to solitary confinement.
Abd al-Adheem Abd al-Haq, 38, from Qusra village near Nablus, was moved from Ashkelon prison to solitary confinement in Ohalei Kedar prison.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli Prison Service was not familiar with Abd al-Haq’s transfer.
Approximately 100 striking prisoners launched their campaign on April 24 in protest against Israel’s continued use of detention without trial against Palestinians despite a 2012 promise to limit the use of administrative detention to exceptional cases. That promise came as a result of a hunger strike involving more than 2,000 Palestinians that brought many to the brink of death.
Since the beginning of this year’s strike, more than 100 other prisoners have joined the original 100, while thousands have held one-day solidarity strikes.
Palestinians held in administrative detention are often held without charge or trial for months and without access to the evidence leading to their detention, even though international law stipulates this tactic only be used in exceptional circumstances.
Palestinian prisoner human rights organization Addameer estimates that around 183 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention.
Over 800,000 Palestinians have been detained since 1967, with 5,224 currently being held in Israeli prisons, according to the PLO.