Thousands of Palestinians mark "Prisoner Day" across the West Bank and Gaza
Human rights groups estimate that there are around 5,000 Palestinians in Israel's jails (Menahem Kahana/AFP)
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Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip to express solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
More than 3,000 Palestinian protesters marked the Prisoners Day on Thursday, rallying in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, al-Khalil (Hebron) and Nablus.
The protesters marched waving Palestinian flags and carrying photos of prisoners.
Hundreds of people also protested in the Gaza Strip late Wednesday.
The demonstrations came as the so-called peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have reached a new deadlock after Tel Aviv refused to free the last tranche of the 104 Palestinian prisoners in late March as part of a deal for the resumption of the US-sponsored negotiations.
The Palestinians responded to Israel’s move by applying to join 15 international agencies and treaties on April 1.
Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian Authority’s minister for prisoner affairs, has said that the decision to join the international treaties could guarantee the rights of Palestinian prisoners held in the Israeli prisons.
He has also said Palestinian prisoners observed a day of hunger strike to mark the day.
The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-detainees Affairs said in a report on Wednesday that 5,000 Palestinian inmates, including 476 people who are sentenced to death, remain in Israeli prisons.
Human rights organizations often criticize Israeli prison authorities for rampant rights abuses in jails and reports of mysterious deaths of inmates in custody. They also complain that many Palestinians are kept in administrative detention.
Administrative detention is a sort of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months. The detention order can be renewed for indefinite periods of time.