Showing solidarity with hunger strikers

Palestinian women relatives of prisoners inside Israeli jails during a solidarity sit-in vigil.

May 17th: 24 hours of hunger in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails

Popular Struggle Co-ordinating Committee, Palestinian BDS National Committee, AIC

This coming Thursday, May 17, will mark a month to the hunger strike, with over 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails participating in it. As Israel refuses to accept the prisoners’ demands for their basic rights, including humane treatment, many of them face immediate risk of death as the world watches in silence.

The prisoners have decided to live in dignity or starve to death in their isolation cells, and a global mobilization is urgently needed to break the deafening silence! A month into the hunger strike, join a

Global 24-hour hunger strike
In front of Israeli embassies, consulates and UN offices
May 17, 2012

Endorse the Palestinian civil society call for a boycott of G4S due to its complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian prisoners’ rights

Click here  to pledge to join the Global 24-hour hunger strike.

More than two weeks ago, some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners launched an open-ended hunger strike and their life is in danger. Their demands are simple and the strike’s slogan, echoing through the prison walls, is just as plain- freedom or death. The lives of all prisoners on strike are currently under danger, but among them is a smaller group, which has been striking for a longer period and whose lives are under immediate threat.

Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab have not eaten for more than 70 days – since the 29th of February. Israeli courts have rejected their appeals and refused to free them from administrative detention where they remain without charge or trial, subject to secret evidence and secret allegations. They are in critical condition.

Hassan Safadi has been refusing food since the 2nd of March, Omar Abu Shalal, 54, since the 4th of March, Mahmoud Sarsak, the only Gazan to have been incarcerated under Israel’s Illegal Combatants Law, since the 24th of March, Mohammed al-Taj, 40, also since the 24th of March and Ja’afar Ezzadeen, 41, since the 27th of march.

The Prisoners’ key demands include:
● Ending the policy of solitary confinement and isolation;
● End ot the use of administrative detentions;
● Restoration of visitation rihts to families of prisoners from the Gaza Strip, a right that has been denied to all families for more than 6 years;
● Cancelling ‘Shalit’ law, which restricts prisoners’ access to educational materials as punitive measure. The law remains intact despite a prisoner swap last October.
● Ending systematic humiliation, including arbitrary strip searches, nightly raids and collective punishment.

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike have been hit hard with retaliation by Israel Prison Services, including beatings, transferring from one prison to another, confiscation of salt (an act that could have severe health consequences for hunger strikers), denial of family and lawyer visits, and isolation and solitary confinement of hunger strikers.

In response, Human Rights Watch issued a statement chiding Israel’s over its administrative detention policy; it said, “It shouldn’t take the self-starvation of Palestinian prisoners for Israel to realize it is violating their due process rights.” Amnesty International also issued a call for urgent action from individuals around the world to contact Israeli authorities about Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh.

Emphasizing imprisonment as a critical component of Israel’s system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid practiced against the Palestinian people, Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations have called for intensifying the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to target corporations profiting directly from the Israeli prison system. In particular, we call for action to be taken to hold to account G4S, the world’s largest international security corporation, which helps to maintain and profit from Israel’s prison system, for its complicity with Israeli violations of international law.

Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee
Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)

Fasting on Fridays
Elizabeth West and Domenica Bianca

It is a departure for both of us to reach out to you in this way, but we are feeling as if we must. The world offers us many opportunities to take a stand and to act for change, and each of us must respond according to the guidance of our own hearts. We are following ours now, and thank you for spending the few minutes it will take for you to read about FASTING ON FRIDAYS: In Solidarity with the Palestinian Karameh (Dignity) Hunger Strike.

Let us begin with a little background. You probably heard or read about Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi a few months back. Both of them have spent years of their lives in and out of Israeli-run prisons under the administrative detention policy. Also known as interment, and very similar to what is practiced by the US at Guantánamo, Israeli administrative detention places people in prison without charges or trial for up to six months, with the potential for an indefinite number of renewals. Neither Adnan nor Shalabi were ever charged with, or convicted of, committing a crime. During their most recent incarcerations, they each chose to go on a hunger strike—Adnan’s lasted for 66 days and Shalabi’s for 43—to protest, among other things, the widespread usage of administrative detention.

Both of the hunger strikes last winter ended through negotiation before deaths occurred. Right now, however, a new and massive non-violent protest has been undertaken by as many as 2500 Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons. The numbers are not entirely clear and we apologize for that, but even if the lower estimates of 1500 are correct, this is a huge action, and a large number of people are putting their lives on the line in order to focus the world’s attention upon violations of international law that are a routine part of the lives of many Palestinians. Ten of the hunger strikers are now gravely ill and close to death. As of this writing, on May 9th, two of them have refused food for 71 days, and the majority are into their fourth week without eating. The situation changes moment to moment.

They have pledged to continue the strike until their demands are met, or until death.
Although we are interested in making as many of you as possible aware of what is unfolding, our purpose here is a little deeper.

Ali Abuminah, a Palestinian-American journalist writes that “Former prisoners and hunger strikers have said that even the smallest demonstration, the smallest acts of solidarity anywhere in the world make an enormous difference to their morale.”

In addition to the public demonstrations of support in Gaza and the West Bank, we know that rallies, teachings, vigils and street protests are happening in various places throughout the US, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and more. It is important for us to note here that a number of the organizers of these events are Jews who embrace the concept of tikkun olam—repairing the world, who like Rabbi Jeffrey Newman, believe that “Without justice for Palestinians, there is no hope for Israel.”

Yesterday, discussing this situation, we found that our hearts demanded we follow our sorrow into some form of action. Time is of the essence here; it is likely that some of the hunger strikers will begin to die in the next day or so. Ideally we would like for our actions to influence public opinion, to change the course of things, but our first and deepest wish is that the Palestinian people know that there are others, many of us Americans, who are with them as they stand steadfastly in the tradition of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and many prisoners from a multitude of nations who have chosen, over the years, to lay down their lives, if necessary, rather than to live a life stripped of both human rights and human dignity.

In terms of action, we would like to invite you to join us and a growing number of people in one or more of the following ways if you feel at all moved to do so:
Make a commitment to FASTING ON FRIDAYS– just one day a week, in solidarity with the hunger strikers. We will continue our once-weekly fasts until the Palestinians end their hunger strike. We are asking that you pledge to the fast for a month (four Fridays) at a time, so that we can track the numbers of fasters and do everything possible to bring attention to our efforts. You can design your own fast, but at minimum, we hope you’ll abstain from sunrise to sunset, each Friday. You can sign up, find more information about the pledge and about fasting here:

We begin this Friday, May 11, 2012.
If your heart would like to join the fast, but your body is not able, we ask you to make a special intention on Fridays to send your love, thoughts and prayers to the Palestinians on hunger strike, to their loved ones, and to all whose lives are moved or changed by this action.

Consider making a donation to an organization that provides support to Palestinians in need, perhaps in the name of, or in honor of, the hunger strikers. We are not in a position to recommend particular groups, but have compiled a list of the members of a coalition called the Palestinian Council of Human Rights Organisations (PCHRO), with links to their individual websites.

Some of these groups focus on general welfare and human rights, some on legal aid, one on women’s issues and another is specific to children’s concerns.

Read and sign this letter to Israeli Brigadier General Dani Afroni, Military Judge Advocate General:
Read and sign this letter to the International Committee of the Red Cross:

We know that there are many things that call to each of us, that open our hearts and ask that we step out of our comfort in order to make the world a bit kinder. We all have to do it in the way or ways that feel correct to us, and we don’t expect that what is moving us to action will necessarily be what galvanizes you. However, we really appreciate your giving our proposal your thoughtful consideration. And if this isn’t for you, then we would be grateful if you forwarded it to anyone whom you think might find it of interest.

With gratitude for all that we have, around and among us,
Elizabeth West and Domenica Bianca

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