by Saud Abu Ramada, Emad Drimly
GAZA/RAMALLAH, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Three members of the International Solidarity Movement on Sunday announced to join the around 6,000 Arab and Palestinian prisoners who have been on a hunger strike in Israeli jails for 12 days, Palestinian right groups said.
The Gaza-based Statistic Center for Palestinian Prisoners said in a statement emailed to reporters that the number of people going on a hunger strike in support of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails climbed up to nine, including six Palestinians and three foreign activists.
The three foreign activists, an American, an Italian and a German, are going on a hunger strike in a tent in front of the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in western Gaza City, the center said. The tent was erected 10 days ago in solidarity with the prisoners.
Meanwhile, peaceful protests and rallies continued Sunday all over the Palestinian territories in solidarity with the prisoners. Hundreds of politicians, activists and students participated in the protests that called on Israel to stop its tightened measures against the prisoners.
In Gaza City, hundreds of students of the al-Azhar University marched in the city's main street and gathered outside the ICRC headquarters, waving Palestinian flags and prisoners' pictures.
The Islamic Hamas movement, which has been ruling the Gaza Strip since June 2007, called on the Arab League to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the hunger strike of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails and find the ways of backing their struggle.
The movement said in a statement emailed to reporters that the local, regional and international movements of solidarity are demanded to exert all their efforts to back the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails "and stop all the raciest and oppression measures practiced against them."
"The Palestinians all over the territories are also demanded to revolt and go for a new Intifada against the Israeli occupation and in solidarity with the prisoners," the Hamas statement said, adding that "we have to defend our legitimate rights until we establish our independent state without recognizing Israel."
In the West Bank, the demonstrations also continued Sunday, with hundreds of Palestinians gathering at the al-Manara Square in the city of Ramallah, waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against Israel. A tent was erected in the square, where more than 10 Palestinians were going on a hunger strike.
Similar demonstrations were also taking place in the village of al-Walja near Bethlehem and in the city of Nablus. Several political notables and activists joined the rallies in the two areas, calling for the immediate release of all the prisoners with no conditions.
Eassa Qaraqea, the Palestinian minister of prisoners affairs in the West Bank, warned of the Israeli Prisons Authorities' threats against the striking prisoners, mainly the patients. These threats "are very dangerous and may target the prisoners' life," he said.
"There are intensive contacts going on all popular and political levels to activate the issue of the prisoners through a series of different activities," said Qaraqea, adding that the Palestinians had appealed to the Arab League to hold an emergency meeting to decide on the issue of the prisoners' hunger strike.
The Arab and Palestinian prisoners began the hunger strike on Sept. 28 in protest of the Israeli Prisons Authorities' new tightened measures on their daily life, such as depriving them of family visits, isolating them in solitary cells and preventing them from watching TV.
The prisoners threatened of a disobedience and rebellion against the prisons authorities, such as refusing instructions, not to go out and stand in queues for the daily counting, and not to wear the prisoner uniforms, if their demands were not met.
Special Report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts