More than a thousand Palestinian prisoners held by Israel launched an open-ended hunger strike on Tuesday to demand that Tel Aviv end detention without trial.
Some 3,500 prisoners refused meals on "Prisoners' Day," and 1,200 of them said they would continue with an open-ended hunger strike, according to Israeli prison service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman.
As well as demanding an end to Israel's widely condemned policy of "administrative detention," under which Palestinians can be sentenced to months or years behind bars by military courts without being charged, the striking prisoners are calling for an end to solitary confinement and for Gaza families to be allowed to visit prisoners held in Israel.
The mass hunger strike is one of the largest on record, said Sahar Francis of Addameer, a prisoner rights group.
Although it remained unclear how many will continue with the protest, they join 10 other Palestinian prisoners already on hunger strike including two who have been hospitalised after refusing food for more than 40 days, Ms Francis added.
Thousands of people rallied in the occupied territories on Tuesday holding framed pictures of their loved ones in prison and waving the flags of different Palestinian political factions.
At a military prison near Jerusalem Palestinian youths hurled rocks at Israeli forces, who fired back rounds of tear gas and pellets. No injuries were reported.
The rallies and protests coincided with the scheduled release of the longest hunger striker in Palestinian history.
Khader Adnan, who didn't eat for 66 days, was freed this afternoon as part of a deal reached with Israel.
Mr Adnan called his strike to protest against administrative detention.
In February, Israel agreed to release him at the end of his detention in exchange for ending the hunger strike. "He began the first step for the rest of the prisoners," said his wife, Randa, referring to today's hunger strike.
In his West Bank hometown of Arrabeh, well-wishers decked posters of Mr Adnan on the streets, and the family prepared to slaughter a sheep in his honour.
Some 4,699 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails, of whom 319 are in administrative detention.
Their alleged crimes range from throwing stones to deadly militant attacks.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
Fire Minister Brandon Lewis probably had a fair idea what Sir Ken Knight would deliver when he asked him to conduct an "independent" report into fire and rescue services in England.
As LGBT activists worldwide celebrate anti-homophobia day we are reminded of prevailing prejudice
Bradford has seen the launch of a new campaign to battle the sources of child sex exploitation - and combat far-right bids to make it a racial issue