[Ppnews] Palestine - Mass hunger strike grows despite Israel’s best efforts to repress it

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 25 14:58:03 EDT 2012

Mass hunger strike grows despite Israel’s best efforts to repress it

Submitted by Maureen Clare Murphy on Wed, 04/25/2012 - 17:16


The Palestinian human rights and prisoner 
advocacy group Addameer announced today that the 
mass, open-ended hunger strike in Israeli prisons 
which began on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ 
Day, has now grown to an estimated 2,000 
participants. Addameer renews its calls for 
action in support of the hunger striking prisoners.

Palestinian prisoners are protesting Israel’s 
practice of administrative detention — 
imprisonment without charge or trial — as well as 
solitary confinement, the denial of family visits 
and access to education, and other punitive 
measures of Israel’s system of arrest and 
detention which is designed to break the 
Palestinian struggle for freedom and liberation.

Israel tries to break strikers’ will

The growth of the open-ended hunger strike is 
despite the Israeli authorities’ punishment of 
hunger strikers. According to Addameer, “Methods 
of punishment currently being employed against 
hunger striking prisoners include attacks on 
prisoners’ sections; confiscation of personal 
belongings; transfers from one prison to another; 
placement in solitary confinement; fines; and 
denial of family and lawyer visits.” The Israeli 
authorities are also reported to be confiscating 
salts for hunger strikers’ water — the only nourishment they are consuming.

Addameer reports today that hunger strikers 
include the 19 prisoners who have already been 
held in solitary confinement, including PFLP 
leader Ahmad Saadat, who has been held under 
lockdown for more than three years. According to 
Addameer, Saadat has already lost 6kg, or approximately 13 pounds.

Eight prisoners remain on extended hunger strikes 
begun before 17 April. These include Thaer 
Halahleh and Bilal Diab, whose appeals against 
their administrative detention orders were 
dismissed by a military judge on Monday despite 
their rapidly deteriorating condition. Seven of 
these men have been transferred to Ramleh prison medical center.

Halahleh and Diab are now into their 57th day of 
hunger strike. Halahleh has previously been held 
under administrative detention four times, and 
his 22-month-old daughter was born while he was 
behind bars, and he has never had a chance to 
meet or hold her. Meanwhile, Diab’s brother 
Azzam, also in Israeli prison, has embarked on a solidarity hunger strike.

According to Addameer, the remaining Palestinian 
women prisoners in HaSharon prison who are not on 
strike have announced that they will join the 
hunger strike beginning 1 May. Addameer’s full release is below.
Solidarity with Bahraini hunger striker

Meanwhile, in Bahrain, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja 
enters his 77th day of hunger strike. Al-Khawaja 
was jailed along with others for leading the 
pro-democracy uprising in the Gulf country.

Palestinian political prisoner Ameer Makhoul has 
issued a letter of solidarity to al-Khawaja and 
to the people of Bahrain. Makhoul stated from 
Gilboa prison: “When the will is free and the 
cause is just, and you embody both, the human is 
capable of making miracles happen, and no 
oppressive, tyrannical, murderous regime can harm 
it, not the Bahraini regime, subject to US 
colonial imperialism, or the Israeli colonial 
system in Palestine. It is the system of 
colonialism and its puppet regimes that have lost 
all legitimacy, while the people are legitimacy and its source.”

Here’s Makhoul’s full statement, roughly translated from Arabic.
Personalizing hunger strikers

The Electronic Intifada will continue to profile 
Palestinian political prisoners currently on 
hunger strike. Last week we published Rami 
Almeghari’s feature on Mahmoud Sarsak, a member 
of the Palestinian national football squad who 
was hospitalized after being on hunger strike for a month.

Meanwhile, Shahd Abusalama published on her blog 
today a translation of an Arabic-language diary 
published on Facebook by Loai Odeh, who 
participated in a 22-day hunger strike last 
September shortly before his release from Israeli 
prison. Odeh’s entries describe his experience on 
each consecutive day of hunger strike, so that 
others have a better idea of what hunger striking prisoners are going through.
Addameer’s full statement on Palestinian hunger strikers:

     Ramallah, 25 April 2012 – On 17 April 2012, 
Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons 
launched a mass hunger strike demanding an end to 
administrative detention, isolation and other 
punitive measures taken against Palestinian 
prisoners including the denial of family visits 
and access to university education.

     Approximately 1,200 Palestinian prisoners 
from all factions began an open hunger strike on 
17 April, with the campaign gaining further 
momentum over this past week and additional 
prisoners joining daily. Addameer estimates that 
the current number of prisoners engaged in open 
hunger strike is around 2,000. This number 
includes the 19 prisoners currently held in 
isolation for “security reasons.” Ahmad Sa’adat, 
the imprisoned Secretary General of the Popular 
Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who 
has been held in isolation for over three years, 
reported on 23 April that since the beginning of 
his hunger strike on 17 April, he had already lost 6 kg.

     As during hunger strikes in the past, the 
Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has escalated its 
punishments of hunger striking prisoners in an 
effort to undermine the campaign. Methods of 
punishment currently being employed against 
hunger striking prisoners include attacks on 
prisoners’ sections; confiscation of personal 
belongings; transfers from one prison to another; 
placement in solitary confinement; fines; and 
denial of family and lawyer visits. Addameer 
lawyers have been denied access to all hunger striking prisoners.

     Forty prisoners who began their hunger 
strike today in Ofer prison were informed that 
they will be transferred to another section of 
the prison and will not be permitted to bring 
with them any personal belongings except clothes. 
In Ashkelon prison, the 150 hunger strikers are 
experiencing daily raids and attacks on their 
rooms by Israeli special forces. In addition to 
all personal belongings being confiscated, the 
IPS also confiscated the hunger-striking 
prisoners’ only nourishment: salt for their 
water. Hunger striking prisoners in Nafha prison 
have also had their salt confiscated, raising 
serious health concerns for the prisoners engaged 
in hunger strike. Of the approximately 400 
prisoners on hunger strike in Nafha, at least 40 
were transferred out of their sections. Hunger 
strikers in Nafha have also been subjected to 
fines and electricity was cut in their rooms. On 
23 April, six prisoners joined in the hunger 
strike in Naqab prison and were all immediately 
placed in solitary confinement. Female prisoner 
Lina Jarbouni also declared an open hunger strike 
on 19 April and was taken to solitary confinement 
on the same day. These aforementioned measures 
are only a few examples of the widespread 
punishments, particularly the use of transfers 
and solitary confinement, currently facing the 
hunger striking prisoners, as an attempt by the 
IPS to further isolate them from the outside 
world and from other prisoners involved in the campaign.

     Meanwhile, eight prisoners, including five 
administrative detainees, remain on extended 
hunger strikes launched prior to 17 April. Seven 
of these prisoners have been transferred to 
Ramleh prison medical center. Thaer Halahleh and 
Bilal Diab are on their 57th day of hunger strike 
today. Despite their rapidly deteriorating 
medical condition, both of their appeals against 
their administrative detention orders were 
rejected by an Israeli military judge on 23 
April. Yesterday, 24 April, Hassan Safadi’s 
petition to the Israeli High Court against his 
administrative detention was rejected. He is on 
his 52nd day of hunger strike. Administrative 
detainees Omar Abu Shalal and Jaafar Azzedine are 
on their 50th and 35th days of hunger strike 
respectively. Also now in Ramleh prison medical 
center are Mohammad Taj, on his 39th day of 
hunger strike demanding to be treated as a prison 
of war, and Mahmoud Sarsak, on his 34th day of 
hunger strike in protest of being held under 
Israel’s Unlawful Combatants Law. Lastly, 
Abdullah Barghouti, held in isolation in Rimon 
prison, is on his 14th day of hunger strike. 
Addameer reiterates its grave concern that these 
hunger strikers are not receiving adequate 
healthcare in the IPS medical center and that 
independent doctors are still being denied visits to them.

     Despite the punitive measures being taken 
against hunger striking prisoners, the campaign 
of hunger strikes continues to grow. The six 
female prisoners in Hasharon who are not already 
on hunger strike have announced that they will 
begin an open hunger strike on 1 May. Additional 
prisoners are also expected to gradually join the 
campaign, including 120 in Ofer prison, who will 
start their hunger strike on 29 April. As the 
mass hunger strike picks up even more momentum, 
it will become that much more crucial for hunger 
striking prisoners to have unrestricted access to 
their lawyers and independent doctors.

     In light of these developments, an upsurge 
of action at the international level is necessary 
to bring attention to the legitimate demands of 
Palestinian prisoners. Addameer therefore renews 
its call on all political parties, institutions, 
organizations and solidarity groups working in 
the field of human rights in the occupied 
Palestinian territory and abroad to support the 
prisoners in their campaign of hunger strikes.

Freedom Archives
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San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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