By: Nasser Al-Azzazi
Egyptian prisoners in Israeli prisons began a hunger strike on Wednesday in protest over poor conditions, discrimination, lack of adequate meals, and being forced to work in Israeli factories and farms for low wages. Other accusations included falsified intelligence reports regarding inmates presented to Israeli judges, failure to transport inmates to hospitals in the event of sickness, and inmates being prevented from taking part in Friday prayer services and being forced into solitary confinement without justification. Mustafa Al-Atrash, the coordinator responsible for the state of Egyptian prisoners in Israel, whose numbers total 80, said that most inmates are from the Sinai peninsula and entered Israel seeking better work opportunities.
He added that inmates began the strike in order to pressure the Israeli government to improve their living conditions and convince Egyptian authorities to intervene to secure their release. Despite this, he said, no actions had so far been taken by the Egyptian government, adding that repeated requests had been made to Egypt’s Foreign Ministry offices at the country’s embassy in Tel Aviv to help the inmates obtain lawyers. Until now, inmates have only received legal representation from Israeli appointed lawyers.
He added that further steps would be taken on the part of inmates over the next several days, saying that inmate families also planned on protesting outside Egyptian government offices.
Israel has so far released 5 Egyptian inmates, all from the Sinai Peninsula, who confirmed the fact that they were exposed to poor conditions and harsh treatment by Israeli prison officials.
Egyptian inmates called on President Mohamed Morsi and Egypt’s Foreign Ministry to intervene to secure the release of those being held, demanding further that they be granted their rights as inmates and be treated equally with the rest of Israel’s prison population.