By Qais Abu Samra
RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) - Some 40 Palestinian prisoners launched an open-ended hunger strike on Wednesday in a prison in southern Israel
Held in Ashkelon prison, they are protesting deteriorating living conditions and escalating repressive measures by the prison administration.
Qadri Abu Bakr, head of the Palestinian Authority Prisoners' Affairs Commission said: "Prisoners in Ashkelon prison informed the prison administration of their intention to start an open-ended hunger strike until their demands are met."
Abu Bakr told Anadolu Agency that the prisoners were subjected to repressive measures and that their belongings were damaged by the authorities.
Several prisoners rights groups reported that the Israeli prison administration has escalated repressive policies against Palestinian prisoners since the beginning of this year.
According to Palestinian figures, roughly 5,000 Palestinians -- including 200 children and 40 women -- are languishing in Israeli detention facilities.
* Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara