The Guardian reports: Demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza in support of about 2,000 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike are escalating amid efforts by Egyptian mediators to broker a deal to avoid protests spiralling out of control if a detainee dies.
Two prisoners, who have refused food for 77 days, are thought to be close to death with another six in a critical condition, say Palestinian groups. The Israeli prison service (IPS) says no one’s life is at risk.
In an unusual intervention, Tony Blair, the representative of the Middle East quartet, urged Israel to “take all necessary measures to prevent a tragic outcome that could have serious implications for stability and security conditions on the ground”. He said he was “increasingly concerned about the deteriorating health conditions” of hunger strikers.
Earlier, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said the situation was “very dangerous”. He told Reuters: “If anyone dies … it would be a disaster and no one could control the situation.” Abbas has appealed to Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, to intervene.
Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Israeli parliament, told a solidarity rally in Jaffa: “If one of the striking prisoners dies, a third intifada [uprising] will break out.”
According to Physicians for Human Rights, there is no previous recorded case of anyone surviving without food or supplements for more than 75 days. IRA hunger strike Bobby Sands died after 66 days in 1981.