May 13 - Palestinian President Abbas says the possible deaths of hunger strikers in Israeli jails could lead to a ''disaster no one would be able to bear'' Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
A plea for help in Gaza. Demonstrators in front of the U.N. and Red Cross local offices, calling for more pressure to be applied on Israel over a prisoners' hunger strike going into its 76th day. About 1,600 prisoners have stopped eating to demand improvements in Israeli custody conditions. They want to see an end to solitary confinement and want more family visits. The fate of the hunger strikers has touched a raw nerve among Palestinians, with daily support rallies in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Political leaders are warning that Israel could face new violence should any prisoner die. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT, SAYING: "The situation is very grave and we have said more than once that some may be hurt and if this happens, it will be a national disaster that no one would be able to bear it. Therefore, our talks are and have been focused on ending this crisis through agreeing to the demands of the prisoners. I hope the Israeli government will agree to those demands as soon as possible." Israel says all prisoners receive adequate medical attention, including in civilian hospitals if required. There are said to be about 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. A one day hunger strike by all the prisoners is due to start on Monday. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters