The United Nations urged Israel on Friday to find a
solution to a 13-day-old hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners, reminding
Israel of its obligations under international law and human rights conventions.

The death of a striking prisoner could lead to unrest in prisons nationwide.

The 2,600 striking inmates are demanding, among other things, to be
transferred to facilities in or along frontiers with the West Bank and Gaza
Strip to enable visits from family members who are currently barred from
entering Israel.

U.N. Mideast envoy Terje Roed-Larsen issued a statement Friday calling on
Israel to “comply with its international obligations and to make every
effort to find, with the prisoners, an appropriate resolution to the hunger

The Red Cross said Friday it had visited prisoners during the hunger strike
and was planning to “strengthen its team of medical doctors” to better
monitor the strikers’ health”¦

Larsen reminded Israel of its obligations under a U.N. convention and
“relevant international human rights instruments which provide for the
protection of detainees and prisoners.”

Speaking at U.N. headquarters in New York, associate spokesman Stephane
Dujarric quoted Secretary-General Kofi Annan as saying he “hopes that the
matter will be resolved soon in a manner consistent with international
humanitarian law.”

Human rights organizations say only about half of the 4,000 Palestinian
“security prisoners” in Israeli jails have been convicted. The rest are
either awaiting trial on charges of hostility toward Israel or are held
under special regulations allowing detainment without trial.

Rights workers say prison staff are withholding necessary medical care from
the striking prisoners and using improper psychological pressure to try and
break the protest


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