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UN envoy urges Israel to preserve health of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike

3 May 2012 – A senior United Nations official said today he was deeply troubled by reports about the critical condition of at least two Palestinians being held by Israel, who have been on hunger strike for over two months, and urged the Government to preserve the health of the prisoners.

The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, urged all sides to “find a solution before it is too late,” according to a statement issued by his office in Jerusalem.

More than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike two weeks ago on 17 April – Palestinian Prisoners Day – to protest against unjust arrest procedures, arbitrary detention and bad prison conditions, according to a news release issued by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).

The UN continues to follow with concern the many issues related to the question of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centres, the statement noted.

“The Special Coordinator is deeply troubled in particular, by reports about the critical condition of at least two Palestinian prisoners being held in administrative detention by the Israeli authorities, who have been on hunger strike for more than two months,” it said.

Mr. Serry called on Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international law and “do everything in its power to preserve the health of the prisoners.”

Yesterday, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, said he was appalled by the ongoing human rights violations in Israeli prisons amid a wave of hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners.

He called on the international community to ensure that Israel complies with international human rights laws and norms in its treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

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