Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails on Monday launched an open-ended hunger-strike demanding better conditions and more access to relatives. Prisoners’ Rights activist Qadoura Fares told AP that more than 1,500 of the 6,500 Palestinians held in Israel were part of the protest. Israeli prison service said that 1,187 inmates had launched a hunger strike on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.

The prisoners are also demanding the abolition of Israel’s detention without trial provision. The agitation is being led by Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving several life terms for five murders, the news agency said. Barghouti is considered to be Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ successor.

Observers fear the protests could snowball into increased hostilities across the West Bank. Palestine views the inmates as political prisoners, while Israel has charged them with attacking nationals and other grave offences. Many are held under the Administrative Detention provision, which allows suspects to be held without charge for six months, BBC reported.