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Palestinians want Trump to pay attention to their plight

Trump arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 May, 2017

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Palestinian activists are calling for a general strike throughout the Palestinian territories to draw US President Donald Trump's attention to a hunger strike by hundreds of prisoners in Israeli jails.

Palestinians are planning a series of actions to draw US President Donald Trump's attention to a hunger strike by hundreds of prisoners in Israeli jails when he visits this week, officials said on Sunday.

Palestinian prisoners will be on their 37th day of a hunger strike when Trump meets Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

Activists are calling for a general strike throughout the Palestinian territories and among Palestinian Israelis on Monday.

Hundreds of protesters blocked roads in cities and towns of the West Bank as the hunger strike entered its 36th day on Monday.

Stores and government offices closed down, public transportation ground to a halt and main thoroughfares in Palestinian cities were empty of people and cars.

Supporters are also planning to display three banners in English in Bethlehem addressed to Trump, his wife Melania and his daughter Ivanka, who are travelling with him.

The prisoners have made a series of demands regarding better conditions, but Israel has refused to negotiate.

"We hope that Mr. Trump will pressure Israel to accede to the strikers' demands," said activist Adel Sabanay.

Amin Shuman, who heads a support group for Palestinian prisoners and ex-detainees, said he hopes the issue will be addressed during the meeting between Trump and Abbas "because it is important in the eyes of the Palestinian street".

Some hunger strikers have begun refusing to drink water as well in recent days, according to supporters.

A Palestinian advocacy group says several of the hundreds of hunger-striking prisoners were hospitalised.

The mass hunger strike, which began on 17 April, is led by Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences over his role in the second Palestinian intifada against the Israeli occupation.

Barghouthi has remained in solitary confinement since the start of the strike.

His wife said that 220 more Palestinian prisoners from various political factions joined the strike on Sunday.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli jails for a range of crimes and alleged offences.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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