Mass prisoners’ hunger strike continues, Israel shrugs
Palestinian prisoners’ heroic hunger strike is continuing as strikers enter their 14th day of the “Battle of the Empty Stomachs,” launched on April 17, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Palestinian prisoners are demanding an end to isolation and solitary confinement, administrative detention/imprisonment without charge, and access to family visits, education and media. These prisoners have explicitly called for international solidarity – act now to support their struggle! Send a letter to Israeli authorities demanding full implementation of the prisoners’ demands.
Tweet Now: May 1 Strike for #PalHunger Strikers #AhmadSaadat #BilalDiab #ThaerHalahleh Act: http://samidoun.ca/?p=997
Palestinian prisoners Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, administrative detainees now on their 63rd day of hunger strike, face serious and severe health deterioration, while national leader, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, has been moved to Ramleh prison hospital. Sa’adat had issued an earlier letter speaking of prisoners’ high morale. Palestinian Legislative Council member Jamal al-Natshe is also facing increasingly dangerous health threats.
Prisoners have rejected various attempts to divide them or undermine their demands, including a proposed modified isolation, and an attempt to bargain for Sa’adat’s release from isolation in exchange for PFLP prisoners leaving the hunger strike. Nevertheless, repression against prisonershas continued, as numerous prisoners have been moved from prison to prison; prisoners are fined 250-500 New Israeli Shekels daily; and Addameer lawyers are barred from the prisons.
Nonetheless, the resistance continues. The prisoners’ Higher Leadership Committee issued a new Statement No. 2, vowing to continue until their demands are met. Calls are echoing throughout Palestine and on social media around the world for a general strike May 1, for International Workers’ Day and the prisoners. A protest will take place outside Ramleh prison hospital, where hunger strikers are held, on Thursday May 3, while daily pickets will take place in London in solidarity with the prisoners.
Successful and growing protests are taking place around the world and throughout Palestine – but more action is urgently needed as the prisoners’ lives, health and bodies are on the line for their rights, dignity, and their cause and people.
1. Sign a letter demanding the Israeli state implement all of the demands of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners. Tell the Israeli Prison Services that the world is watching! Click here to sign.
2. Join a protest or demonstration for Palestinian prisoners. Join in the call for May 1 actions – include prisoners in your May Day activities. Organizing an event, action or forum on Palestinian prisoners on your city or campus? Use this form to contact us and we will post the event widely. If you need suggestions, materials or speakers for your event, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Contact your government officials and demand an end to international silence and complicity with the repression of Palestinian political prisoners. In Canada, Call the office of John Baird, Foreign Minister, and demand an end to Canadian support for Israel and justice for Palestinian prisoners, at : 613-990-7720; Email: email@example.com. In the US, call the office of Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs (1.202.647.7209). Demand that Jeffrey Feltman bring this issue urgently to his counterparts in Israel.
4. Write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and demand they uphold their duties to protect the rights of Palestinian political prisoners. Click here to sign a one-minute letter http://samidoun.ca/2012/04/palestinian-prisoners-day-take-action-to-call-for-freedom-for-palestinian-prisoners/#letterand make your voice heard!
Israeli prison doctor fears for lives of four hunger-striking Palestinians
Some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger strike since April 17 to protest Israeli detention policies and conditions in Israeli prisons.
By Amira Hass, Haaretz
There are fears for the lives of four of the thousands of Palestinians currently on hunger strikes in Israeli prisons, an Israeli Prison Service doctor said on Monday.
The Israeli Prison Service said earlier this month that some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners have been on hunger strike since April 17 to protest Israeli detention policies and conditions in Israeli prisons.
Of the four said to be in danger, Bilal Diyab, Ta’ir Halale, and Omar Abu Shlal are administrative detainees whom a military court sentenced to prison on the basis on a Shin Bet order as well as a military decree, and who demand to be either tried or released.
The fourth detainee, Muhammad Siksak from the Gaza Strip is hunger striking after being deemed an “illegal combatant” by the Israeli authorities.
The Israel Prison Service did not directly confirm the statement by the prison medical facility doctor according to which that the prisoners are facing danger, but told Haaretz that the “Israel Prison Service is obligated by law to ensure the health and safety of those in custody. Naturally, the concern for the safety of the hunger strikers keeps us busy, and much is being done, medically speaking, to ensure their safety.
“All of the hunger strikers are under medical supervision, and those who have requested full-time supervision are being held in a medical facility in Ramle. Should the situation deteriorate, the prisoners will be transferred to a public hospital, as was done in previous instances, ” the Israeli Prison Service said.
Bilal Diyab, who has been striking for 67 days, was transferred on Tuesday to the Assaf Harofeh Hospital due to deterioration in his condition.
On Monday, a doctor from Physicians for Human Rights visited the prison hospital, and determined that the prisoners should be released permanently to a public hospital. According to Anat Litvin, who is an activist with Physicians for Human Rights, the Israeli Prison Service medical facility is not properly equipped for supervision and treatment of hunger strikers who are facing health deterioration. In an interview with Adalah’s (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) online newspaper, Litvin described the bodily and cognitive harm caused by hunger striking at every point in their strike. Litwin also said that the Israel Prison Service doctors have a double-duty – to their patients as well as to the institution which pays their salary, which may influence their medical decisions.
Four more hunger strikers are currently hospitalized at the Israel Prison Service medical facility. One of them is Ahmad Sa’adat, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who was transferred to the clinic after his health significantly deteriorated.
On Monday, attorney Jawad Boulus, who represents the hunger strikers as part of the Palestinian Prisoner Society, told reporters in Ramallah that as far as he knows, that as opposed to the negotiations which took place with Khader Adnan, the Israeli authorities are not holding any negotiations with the prisoners. Boulus was impressed with both Adnan and Hana Shalabi’s hunger strikes, which were able to bring worldwide attention to the contentious Israeli policy of administrative detention.
According to the Israeli Prison Service, 300 Palestinian prisoners are currently being held under administrative detention in Israeli prisons. The policy, which dates back to the emergency laws enacted during the British Mandate period, allows Israel to detain Palestinians for renewable periods of several months, without indictment or trial.
The strikers are protesting three main Israeli policies: solitary confinement, administrative detention and the continuation of sanctions imposed before the release of abducted Israeli solder Gilad Shalit. The administrative detention policy allows Israel to jail suspected terrorists without trial for extendable six-month periods, based on classified intelligence information made available only to a military judge. The sanctions imposed as part of the pressure on Hamas to release Shalit include preventing visits from family members who live in Gaza, making conditions difficult for West Bank families visiting relatives in prison (by strip searching them, for example), canceling academic courses and what the prisoners call other collective punishments.
The prisoners are also protesting what they call humiliating measures in Israeli prisons, such as night searches of prison cells.
Boulus believes that Israel is currently calculating the potential damage that could be caused by the death of one of the hunger strikers. He believes that Israeli officials have decided that the damage caused by the death of a prisoner is small, thus there is no effort being put into preventing the death through negotiations. The Israeli Prison Service has yet to respond to Boulus’ evaluation.
Jack Khoury contributed to this article.
A number of British NGOs have called on supporters to join them outside Downing Street on Saturday 27th April, in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who are currently on hunger strike.
In a press release made available to Quds Press, the Palestine Forum of Britain called on Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims in the UK, and on all freedom lovers, to take part in the protest, in solidarity with the hunger strike prisoners. Since 17 April, 1,600 Palestinian prisoners embarked on a mass hunger strike in protest against Israel’s administrative detention and solitary confinement policies, as well as their detention conditions and the violations conducted by the Israeli prisons’ authorities against them and their families.
The protest is co-organised by the Palestine Forum in Britain (PFB), the British Muslim Initiative, and the UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign.