Hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel launch hunger strike

An activist said Monday that more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners have launched an open-ended hunger strike to demand better conditions in Israeli prisons, including more contact with relatives, and an end to Israel's practice of detentions without trial.

The protest is led by Marwan Barghouti, a prominent figure in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. Opinion polls suggest that Barghouti, who is serving multiple life terms for his role in a violent Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, is the top contender to succeed Abbas.

Qadoura Fares, an advocate for prisoners' rights, said 6,500 Palestinians are currently held by Israel. Palestinians marked Monday as Prisoners' Day.

Fares said hundreds of prisoners launched a 28-day strike in 2012. In 2014, dozens of detainees held without trial went on hunger strike for two months.

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