Lyon, France: “Gaza Beach” action calls for end of siege, freedom for Palestinian prisoners

From Samidoun:

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On 5 September 2015, over 1,000 people in Lyon, France came out to the “Gaza Beach Lyon” to stand in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza and on hunger strike in Israeli jails. Organized by Collectif 69 Palestine, the afternoon gathering included a speech by Gilles Devers, a lawyer from Lyon, on Israeli violations of international law, the International Criminal Court and administrative detention, as well as Palestinian songs and a speech from Gaza by Ziad Medoukh.

The event, demanding an end to the siege on Gaza, the rebuilding of Gaza, freedom for Palestinian prisoners and an end to administrative detention, also included flags and banners demanding freedom for the prisoners and supporting those involved in the “Battle of Breaking the Chains,” since 20 August.

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Take Action – Join hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners to say: End Administrative Detention

From Samidoun:

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Five Palestinian prisoners held in administrative detention without charge or trial in Israeli jails are about to enter their second week on hunger strike, demanding an end to administrative detention. Take Action to support the hunger strikers and call for freedom for administrative detainees!

Nidal Abu Aker, Ghassan Zawahreh, Shadi Ma’ali, Badr al-Ruzza, and Munir Abu Sharar launched their hunger strike on 20 August 2015, protesting their administrative detention without charge or trial. All have had their arbitrary detention orders renewed multiple times. On Monday, 31 August, they were removed from their prison cells and thrown into isolation – Abu Aker in Asqelan, Zawahreh and Ma’ali in Ella prison, and Ruzzah and Abu Sharar in the Naqab prison.

Khader Adnan supports the hunger strikers.

Khader Adnan supports the hunger strikers.

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association reported that the five have consumed only liquids since 20 August and are boycotting the occupation military courts along with 50 other administrative detainees, exposing the sham nature of these hearings relying on secret information that neither Palestinian prisoners or their lawyer can review. “Addameer calls upon solidarity organizations, human rights organizations and individuals all around the world to join the campaign to end administrative detention while emphasizing the necessity of popular support for Palestinian prisoners and detainees,” the organization urged.

In addition, Kayed Fawzi Abu Rish, 42, from Nablus, has been on hunger strike for 26 days. Held in administrative detention since December 2014, the order against him was renewed in June 2015 for an additional six months. He was transferred to hospital yesterday after being held in isolation in Megiddo prison.

Prisoner support tent at the entrance to Dheisheh refugee camp.

Prisoner support tent at the entrance to Dheisheh refugee camp.

There are approximately 480 Palestinians held without charge or trial in administrative detention in Israeli prisons. Israeli military commanders issue orders for up to one to six months of detention, which are indefinitely renewable. Introduced in Palestine by the British colonial authority, administrative detention is used in a routine and frequent manner. According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies, 85% of administrative detention orders are renewed at least once. Israel’s widespread and systematic use of administrative detention violates the Geneva Conventions and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The five detainees have been on hunger strike for thirteen days and are about to enter their third week on strike, while Abu Rish is nearing a month on strike. They are demanding an end to administrative detention in this “Battle of Breaking the Chains.” They are threatened not only by the risks to their health and lives by hunger striking, but also threatened with the new Israeli force-feeding law that legitimizes force-feeding torture against hunger striking prisoners, which led to the death of four Palestinian hunger strikers in the 1970s and 1980s.

Video (Press TV News report):

Layla (Um Samer) Issawi and Malika (Um Nidal) Abu Aker, mothers of Palestinian prisoners

Layla (Um Samer) Issawi and Malika (Um Nidal) Abu Aker, mothers of Palestinian prisoners

In Dheisheh refugee camp, the home of three of the strikers, a permanent solidarity tent has been set up.

Khader Adnan, former administrative detainee who won his freedom twice through long-term hunger strikes, visited the solidarity tent and met with members of the prisoners’ families; Layla (Um Samer) Issawi also met with the strikers’ families, urging support and solidarity with the strike. She is the mother of Samer, Shireen and Medhat Issawi, all imprisoned in Israeli jails; Samer was previously freed in a long-term hunger strike.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest solidarity with the striking prisoners, and calls for international actions, mobilizations and events to demand their freedom. We cannot wait until these brave strugglers are facing death to act and demand not only their freedom as individuals, but the abolition of administrative detention – on the road to freeing every Palestinian prisoner held in Israeli occupation jails. It is not the case that Israeli military courts are any more legitimate, fair or acceptable than administrative detention – they are just as arbitrary, racist and illegitimate. But administrative detention is a weapon of mass terror used against the Palestinian people, and it is critical to bring this practice to an end. These Palestinian prisoners have put their bodies on the line in order to end administrative detention – and it is imperative that we act to support them. These prisoners’ struggle is not only about their individual freedom – it is part of their struggle for return and liberation for Palestine.

Take Action!

1. Sign on to this statement in support of the prisoners’ demand to End Administrative Detention. Organizational and individual endorsements are welcome – and organizational endorsements particularly critical – in support of the prisoners’ demands and their actions. Click here to sign or sign below: http://bit.ly/EndAdministrativeDetention

2. Send a solidarity statement. The support of people around the world helps to inform people about the struggle of Palestinian prisoners. It is a morale booster and helps to build political solidarity. Please send your solidarity statements to samidoun@samidoun.net. They will be published and sent directly to the prisoners.

3. Hold a solidarity one-day hunger strike in your area. Gather in a tent or central area, bring materials about Palestinian prisoners and hold a one-day solidarity strike to raise awareness and provide support for the struggle of the prisoners and the Palestinian cause. Please email us at samidoun@samidoun.net to inform us of your action – we will publicize and share news with the prisoners.

4. Protest at the Israeli consulate or embassy in your area.  Bring posters and flyers about administrative detention and Palestinian hunger strikers and hold a protest, or join a protest with this important information. Hold a community event or discussion, or include this issue in your next event about Palestine and social justice. Please email us at samidoun@samidoun.net to inform us of your action – we will publicize and share news with the prisoners.

5. Contact political officials in your country – members of Parliament or Congress, or the Ministry/Department of Foreign Affairs or State – and demand that they cut aid and relations with Israel on the basis of its apartheid practices, its practice of colonialism, and its numerous violations of Palestinian rights including the systematic practice of administrative detention. Demand they pressure Israel to free the hunger strikers and end administrative detention.

6. Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Don’t buy Israeli goods, and campaign to end investments in corporations that profit from the occupation. G4S, a global security corporation, is heavily involved in providing services to Israeli prisons that jail Palestinian political prisoners – there is a global call to boycott itPalestinian political prisoners have issued a specific call urging action on G4S. Learn more about BDS at bdsmovement.net.

 

Green Activism in Palestine

Posted on Earth First! Newswire:
Article by Corinne Pinfold / Earth Island Journal

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During family Fridays at the Mashjar, parents and children learn about nature together via various fun activities. Photo by Morgan Cooper.

Land is key to the ongoing occupation in Palestine. Wars have been fought over territory and legal battles have spun out for decades over matters as basic as accessing a plot. Despite land being such a major issue, the human cost of occupation means that the environmental cost is forgotten not just by Western outsiders like myself, but also by Palestinians themselves.

The destruction of olive trees has, of course, become almost a symbol of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The cultural significance of olive branches as messages of peace add a metaphorical layer to the trials Palestinian farmers face when their income and heritage is destroyed. (Read the Journal’s 2002 report on this issue here). However, there are many other native plants and wildlife that too, are an integral part of Palestinian history and culture.

While walking in the hills around Ramallah with a group of friends recently, I ran into Saleh Totah, an activist who co-founded Mashjar Juthour, a 2.5 acre arboretum and eco-park on the Thahr al Okda hillside. Totah and his partner, Morgan Cooper, started Mashjar Juthour, which translates roughly as “the Roots Arboretum,” in 2013 as a permaculture education project seeking to re-establish the diverse range of flora that flourished in Palestine years ago, but which has been lost in conflict and in ignorance.

The project is one of many that have cropped up in Palestine in recent years, including rooftop gardens and fish farms, that hope to reconnect the people in this conflict-ridden region with their natural environment and inspire Palestinians to work towards a sustainable future for themselves and their land.

That day, and on a subsequent visit when we helped to clear stones, we heard about the different plants growing in the Mashjar: Palestinian oak with its edible acorns, orchids which are used to make the drink salep, tiny, wild peas which we ate from the pod. Many of Mashjar’s plants have a dual purpose. They make the land itself rich and sustainable while also providing sustenance. Lentils, for example, are grown for food and at the same time return nitrogen to the soil for hungry trees.

The diverse range of plants found in Mashjar Juthour is unusual in Palestine. The hills around the park are filled almost exclusively with olives. There is little room for any other kind of tree to grow.

“People see value only in the olive tree,” says Cooper. “It’s a major source of income, so farmers clear the land of all the other trees in order for the olive trees to live without other trees competing.”

Partly, this is due to the challenge of accessing land. Olives are hardy, and once they reach maturity they can survive with little maintenance. This is a necessity for the many farmers who require permits, rarely granted, to access their land that has been enveloped behind the Israeli barrier wall.  This rationale is understandable, but it means that much of the traditional knowledge in sustainable farming – what we would call permaculture – has been lost. And that loss makes Palestinians more dependent on imports for everything beyond olive oil products.

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Volunteers help build traditional terraces at the arboretum.The Mashjar project aims to use education to reverse Palestinians’ loss of knowledge about the environment and of how to take care of it.

It’s not just farmers with land outside across the wall who are affected. The West Bank itself was divided in 1990s, with the vast majority, about 60 percent, being designated as Area C, under Israeli occupation. On this land, the Palestinian Authority controls only health and educational matters. For every other aspect of life here, Israel is the governing authority.

The problems this causes — whether it’s the lack of protection for Palestinian villagers, unplanned waste disposal that sees settlement sewage tainting Palestinian crops, or withholding of development permits — mean that people are too afraid or too frustrated to connect with the land.

“Area C has compacted the Palestinian alienation from land and it’s so uncommon to see Palestinians picnicking or even hiking,” Cooper says. “We don’t access nature. And we’re losing so much of the knowledge we have about it, without even realizing it, because most of us are totally distracted with the greater struggles of living under occupation.”

The result of this is a shocking lack of environmental awareness, not just among farmers or landowners, but the wider Palestinian community. One obvious indicator is the widespread littering. The road from Ramallah to Mashjar, a winding path through hills lined with old stone huts and terraces of olive trees, would appear Biblical were it not strewn with candy wrappers and energy drink cans.

“It’s a complete lack of awareness we have about the environment and the negative effect we have on it,” Cooper says. The issue is compounded because the road is in Area C, so the Palestinian Authority isn’t allowed to provide waste disposal services, she explains. “Instead it is the responsibility of the [Israeli authorities]. And they simply don’t take that responsibility. So what happens to waste, then?”

The Mashjar project aims to use education to reverse Palestinians’ loss of knowledge about the environment and of how to take care of it.

“The idea is to get our community back to nature, to remind them of the very important relationship we have always had to the environment around us, and especially to bring back the traditional knowledge and natural heritage of Palestine,” Cooper says.

With a small team of mostly volunteers, Cooper and Totah have painstakingly rehabilitated the 2.5 acres of land. The park now boasts 60 species of trees, including native oaks, kaykabs, caroubs, maples, and pines. To get people out of the city and into the wild, Mashjar runs events in its arboretum: workshops, family days, guided walks and one-off events like an astronomy camp.

Cooper hopes that their schemes will encourage environmental stewardship and make food sovereignty part of the Palestinian human rights movement. It seems like their efforts have been bearing some fruit. After they’ve visited the Mashjar, children start to chide each other for littering, Cooper tells me. But, just a couple of acres and limited human resources, are hampering the Mashjar’s ambitions.

“We have a huge vision, but that needs capacity and we just don’t have capacity,” Cooper says. “We have requests for more activities and workshops, for guided walks and camps, but we simply can’t. Further, we’re starting from square one, taking on questions like ‘what is waste’ and ‘why should we care about the environment at all?’ ”

Cooper and Totah are now looking to expand the Mashjar Juthour’s land and get more local educators involved in the project.

Gaza talks back: Demonstrations and “International Solidarity Week for Anarchist Prisoners”

From International Solidarity Movement:

This Monday 24th of August, as every Monday, the families of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have gathered at the Red Cross headquarters in Gaza City. Tens of people joined them in order to show their support, denounce the conditions that the prisoners suffer and to demand the freedom of all the Palestinians kidnapped by the occupation.

In a new proof of their solidarity with the oppressed people of the world, the Palestinian former prisoners have shown their support to all the Anarchist prisoners jailed around the world, during the second “International Solidarity Week for Anarchist Prisoners”, 23-30 August 2015.

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“International Solidarity Week for Anarchist Prisoners”

At the same time it took place at the UN headquarters in Gaza City a huge demonstration where the Union of workers of UNRWA demanded the Agency Commissioner-General to back down from its decision of reducing the number of teachers, increasing the number of students per class, stopping the recruitment of new staff and reducing the medical services to the refugees.

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Demonstration in Gaza against the Agency Commissioner-General\s decision on less teachers and mre children in each class.

They also demanded the salaries owed to them and asked the UNRWA to reconsider its policies regarding the recruitment of foreign staff as it takes a disproportionate share of the UNRWA budget.

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Demonstration in Gaza against the Agency Commissioner-General\s decision on less teachers and mre children in each class.

They also demanded the UN States to assume its commitment with the Palestinian refugees and to stop denying them their rights.

Re-arrested Palestinian former prisoners plan protest steps, hunger strike

From Samidoun:

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The six Palestinians whose sentences were re-imposed. Via Wattan TV

Palestinian prisoners released in the Wafa al-Ahrar agreement and then rearrested are considering taking steps toward an open hunger strike, said Palestinian lawyer Jawad Boulos on Sunday, 23 August.

Boulos visited the re-arrested prisoners from Jerusalem – who were rounded up in mass arrests in summer 2014 and then had their original sentence reimposed by a secret Israeli military commission without charges and on the basis of secret evidence.

Adnan Maragha, Nasser Abed Rabbo, Jamal Abu Saleh, Alaa Bazian and Aref Fakhouri – as well as former long-term hunger striker Samer Issawi – are awaiting the decision of the Israeli occupation Supreme Court in their case against the reimposition of their sentences. They urged actions on the legal, political and popular levels to support their freedom.

63 former prisoners have been rearrested by the Israeli occupation army after their freedom in the 2011 exchange agreement with the Palestinian resistance which saw 1000 Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Samer Issawi reported that he ended his solidarity hunger strike on Thursday with Muhammad Allan after several days, at the news of Allan’s own strike ending.

Palestinian prisoners on fifth day of hunger strike to end administrative detention

From Samidoun:

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Munir Abu Sharar

The first six Palestinian administrative detainees to launch the collective hunger strike in Negev prison in the Naqab desert – who will be joined by new batches of detainees in the coming weeks and days – are now entering their fifth day of hunger strike. 250 Palestinians held without charge or trial in Israeli prisons have announced their intention to join the collective hunger strike against the policy of administrative detention.

The first six Palestinians to launch the strike are: Nidal Abu Aker, Ghassan Zawahreh, Shadi Ma’ali, Munir Abu Sharar, Bader El-Razzah and Thabet Nassar. On Sunday, 23 August, they rejected a request from the Israeli prison administration to postpone their strike for a week, in which the prison administration would study their individual cases with the intelligence service and provide individual answers. They responded with their rejection of this offer, stressing that their goal is to end the policy of administrative detention and demand their immediate release, while on the other hand the prison administration has isolated the strikers in an attempt to pressure them and isolate them from the Palestinian people.

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Nidal Abu Aker (top), Ghassan Zawahreh (right), Shadi Ma’ali (left)

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Protest tent in solidarity with the strikers being set up at the entrance to Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem

The prisoners stated that this confirms that the occupation and its intelligence service are recognizing at an early stage the seriousness of this battle and the support the prisoners will receive.

Former prisoner Adnan Hamarsheh issued a call for unified action to support the detainees, urging the construction of a permanent sit-in tent in each area raising the Palestinian flag to support the prisoners, weekly marches and press conferences updating on the prisoners’ situation, monthly workshops on the prisoners, and the involvement of schools and universities at all levels in the campaign to end administrative detention.

The striking prisoners issued a statement on their struggle:

Battle of Breaking the Chains

We enter the open hunger strike strongly and collectively with our aim to bring down administrative detention. This goal is at the forefront of our demands and is a priority to raise our collective struggle as a strategic challenge to the racist, fascist law which allows our people to be detained for long periods of time – for ten years and more over multiple arrests without charges, with no right to defend themselves in a fair trial, while the “process” is a sham intended to beautify the image of the occupation and its intelligence.

We believe that our demands must focus on the basis of the problem and not just its ramifications, in that we are aiming to bring down administrative detention as a law and as a policy which at this moment is depriving 480 administrative detainees and thousands of our imprisoned people of their freedom for many years throughout the occupation of our land.

Although we have clearly identified our goals, we in no way believe that this fight is easy, indeed it is even more difficult. Enough is enough, and we know that the occupier will tighten its grip over our main demand and will use all kinds of fascist tactics in order to thwart us from achieving our goal, but we know that the masses of our people and their organizations and institutions will be the first engine to build local, Arab and international pressure to build a broader case against the occupation and the policy of administrative detention and force the occupier to give in to our demands. Although we are convinced with ourselves to fight this battle and determined to win, despite our awareness of the difficulty and the severity to come, we aim to achieve our goals and should focus all efforts in order to involve more administrative detainees in this action as well as building the Palestinian popular movement support, the Arab masses’ support, and international support, all for the purpose of achieving victory and the best results in this battle.

The liberation of each of us is a right and a requirement, but as a target by itself it does not achieve our general interests: the occupation is easily able to turn around and re-arrest any of us after a brief period of freedom under the same policy of administrative detention.

We are not individual heroes and do not claim that we alone can achieve the strategic victory to bring down this policy, but we are determined to go into this fight until the last, and we are aware that the battle is open to all possibilities, our victory or our martyrdom for the sake of a strategically important achievement. Perhaps we may achieve part of our demands; in this case we will have fought our battle with honor and dignity. We are fighting a difficult and tiring battle to destabilize the whole system of arbitrary administrative detention. This battle aims to achieve the freedom of hundreds of administrative detainees held each year under the pretext of the “secret file” and the prosecution of the Zionist security forces.

This step comes in the context of the progressive and escalating struggle since the beginning of July, with the boycott of the occupation courts, we have continued this boycott and the occupation is attempting to pressure us by renewing our administrative detention for longer periods, and we know that the occupation recognizes the importance of this action in eroding and exposing its policy. We also emphasize the importance of breaking the force-feeding law, which is a decision for execution and forces us to escalate the pace of our struggle to bring down administrative detention. Our action now is “banging on the walls of the tank” [in reference to Ghassan Kanafani’s “Men in the Sun”] and opening the path for greater participation by administrative detainees and engaging all of the energies of our people at popular and official levels, and all of our international and regional friends and supporters to achieve victory in this battle, and in the long battle to remove the occupation from our land, our sea and our people forever.

250 Palestinian prisoners held in administrative detention state they will launch open hunger strike

From Samidoun:

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250 Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention in the “Negev” prison in the Naqab desert in the south of Palestine announced they will launch an open-ended hunger strike to defeat administrative detention. The statement, released on 18 August, also expressed support for their fellow administrative detainee, Muhammad Allan, 31, who just ended his 65-day hunger strike last night, 19 August, after a decision by the Israeli supreme court and severe damage to his health including brain damage; Allan is now again in a coma.

250 of the nearly 400 Palestinian administrative detainees are held in the Negev prison, among 1500 Palestinian political prisoners. Much of the Negev prison is constructed in tents, and Palestinian prisoners are suffering in a heat wave, with blazing sun and little protection from the elements.

Nidal Abu Aker, 49, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine from Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, is one of the leaders of the administrative detainees’ initiative, according to Ma’an News. The host of “In their cells,” a program about Palestinian prisoners that airs on Sawt al-Wihda radio station – the only radio station to broadcast from Dheisheh camp – he has spent 12 years in Israeli prisons, 9 years in administrative detention without charge or trial. He was most recently arrested in June 2014 and his administrative detention has been renewed four times, most recently in May.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes these brave prisoners, who are putting their bodies and lives on the line to confront the occupier and its continual assaults on Palestinian lives. We demand their immediate release, the end of administrative detention – and the liberation of all of the nearly 6,000 Palestinian political prisoners. We pledge to act to build solidarity with their struggle, and urge all around the world to organize protests, actions and events to demand the release of Palestinian political prisoners and an end to administrative detention.

The statement of the 250 administrative detainees follows:

The Battle of Breaking the Chains

To the masses of our great people, the heroes of revolution, the fiery fuel of confrontation of the Zionist occupation and the fascist colonists, to our youth, our mothers and sisters; our struggle does not relent because of your sacrifices. We greet you for Palestine.

Today we face the escalating Zionist attacks against our people in general and against the rights of our Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and massive harassment, frenzied campaigns of inspections and raids and the denial of the most basic rights of living that provide a minimum of human dignity. We face the continuation of the Palestinian division and its impact on the reality of our national movement in the prisons of the occupier. And we face the persistence of the occupier in enacting new fascist and racist laws, such as the law of death and the law of force-feeding which was recently passed, and the growing use of administrative detention. It represents a clear and explicit violation of all international conventions and human rights principles, where we are arrested for extended periods, for years continuously, at the mercy of a so-called “secret file,” where we have no right to defend ourselves. Administrative detention is a sword hanging over our necks, that eats away our flesh and blood and years of our lives without trial and without mercy.

It is used relentlessly by the enemy intelligence service and by the military courts. There have been more than 480 administrative detention orders issued, the number of administrative detainees rising to a height of 650 since just last summer. Most administrative detainees have their detention orders renewed more than once. Some have spent more than five years and others ten years in administrative detention over repeated arrests. In light of this detention, we consider ourselves to be in a continuing struggle of confrontation with the occupier.

Therefore, we have made our first step in confronting this form of arrest: boycotting the occupation courts issuing administrative detention orders, fully and finally, to reveal and expose the occupation before our people, our Arab nation and international public opinion, where the occupier attempts to legitimize its detention of us.

Through dialogue and discussion between all administrative detainees of all political forces, with the commitment of 80 detainees we began to act from the date of 1 July 2015, where we boycotted the Zionist military courts and refused to appear because they are am illegitimate sham. We were denied the right to access our lawyers, denying us the right to a defense and representation.

We view this as a step that advances the prisoners’ movement in confronting administrative detention, to stand up and play our national role in confronting the arbitrary administrative detention. Some administrative detainees have undertaken individual hunger strikes in protest of administrative detention in general and their personal detention, as is their right. Despite this, we view the collective action on a national level is more capable of creating real results to break the policy of administrative detention. However, the endangered life of Mohammad Allan since two months has confronted the occupation and its tools, and is threatened with the implementation of a decision of force-feeding. We resolve to fight against the occupation and its intelligence apparatus in the battle of empty stomachs, in order to achieve the following demands:

1. The end of the administrative detention policy against our people and their strugglers.
2. The support to the struggler Muhammad Allan; we will not leave him alone in the battle. We refuse any decision that does not provide his freedom, and we refuse any decision to deport him, which is another violation of human rights.
3. Bringing down the law of force-feeding against activists on hunger strike, as it represents a decision for their death and a flagrant violation of international human rights principles.
4. Our immediate freedom and unconditional release, as a contribution to the demolition of the policy of administrative detention.
5. To break the deadlock and internal division, and to unify the Palestinian forces for joint national action inside the prisons, culminating in true national unity.

To the struggling masses of our people, we face a complex reality that already sees a number of striking prisoners threatened with death at the hands of the prison administration and intelligence services. We cannot stand idly by and observe from afar, our will and action is united with the popular and national movement and support from the Palestinian street. We emphasize that we are with you and without your support, we cannot achieve our demands. Without you, Palestine will not enjoy its freedom, independence and the return of her children.

You and your will are great, and your participation will bring victories and the rights of our people. You are with us as we are fighting our battle in confronting the occupation, and we are inevitably victorious.