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.

Update: Take Action: 180 prisoners now on hunger strike; PFLP prisoners to strike Tuesday

From Samidoun:

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There are now 180 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on open hunger strike and hundreds more set to begin striking on Tuesday, 11 August. The wave of strikes was initiated after Israeli special forces attacked Palestinian prisoners in Nafha, injuring 30 prisoners in a violent nighttime raid, including Ahmad Sa’adat, Palestinian political leader and General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Groups of prisoners were isolated and transferred from Nafha and Palestinian prisoners launched a campaign of resistance.

TAKE ACTION: Click here for action steps to support Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.

120 prisoners in Nafha affiliated with Fateh launched a hunger strike on Thursday, 6 August, demanding an end to isolation and solitary confinement, the return of transferred prisoners, an end to the denial of family visits, canteen access and an end to the raids on prisoners. On 9 August, 32 prisoners affiliated with Islamic Jihad launched a hunger strike as several dozen more Fateh prisoners in Ramon and Eshel prisons joined the strike. The prisoners of Islamic Jihad announced that they were dissolving their leadership as of Monday 10 August – thus leaving no official representatives to negotiate with Israeli prison administration, and demanded the end of the isolation of prisoner Nahar Saadi, the end of the force-feeding law and in particular its use against Muhammad Allan, and expressed their support for the striking Fateh prisoners and their demands.

These open hunger strikes come in addition to several individual hunger strikes, including that of Muhammad Allan, 31, a Palestinian lawyer held without charge or trial in administrative detention who has been on hunger strike for over 55 days, is in a severe medical emergency situation and is being threatened with force-feeding by the Israeli military under the new force-feeding law that has been condemned by UN representatives, the Israeli Medical Association and human rights advocates. Click here to take action on Muhammad Allan’s case!

The prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in all Israeli prisons announced on 9 August that their escalation to open hunger strike – earlier announced for Sunday and then delayed until Wednesday – will now take place on Tuesday. Ahmad Sa’adat, for whom the Israeli prison service had promised to end the denial of family visits, was instead ordered to an additional three-month prohibition on family visits on Sunday, even as a one-month ban on family visits was imposed on all Palestinian prisoners in the Negev prison.

The leftist party’s prison branch issued the following statement:

The prison branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, headed by national leader Ahmad Sa’adat, will launch an open hunger strike on Tuesday [11 August], following a stalemate in the negotiations with the Prison administration, brought about by the Prison Service’s intransigence in response to the just demands of the prisoners. In addition, today a military order was issued extending the security prohibition against leader Sa’adat, denying him family visits for an additional three months.

The prison branch confirmed that the Front’s prisoners, led by Sa’adat, have decided to fight a long and difficult battle with the occupation which is not conditioned by any covenants or undertakings, after exhausting all options in order to impel the occupier to respond to the demands of the prisoners.

The PFLP prisoners called on the masses of our people, the Arab and Muslim communities and countries, and the forces of justice and freedom in the world to provide the widest support and solidarity to the struggle of the prisoners’ national movement in the battles of confrontation and steadfastness they are waging around the clock against the prison and intelligence officials of the occupation. The breadth and depth of solidarity gives prisoners inspiration to continue the struggle until their rights are achieved in full.

The PFLP prisoners have put forward their demands:

  • allowing family visits for prisoners who have been, until now, prohibited from such visits with their loved ones, including Palestinian political leader Ahmad Sa’adat;
  • providing necessary and adequate medical care to sick prisoners;
  • ending the policy of administrative detentions;
  • improving the living conditions inside the prisons;
  • prohibiting invasions and raids by special units of the Zionist forces, including the Metsada unit, on the sections and cells of the prisoners.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its strongest solidarity with all Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike and those launching their strike on Tuesday, and all of the over 5750 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. They and their bodies are daily on the front lines of the Palestinian struggle for justice, return and liberation, and their political strength and unity are a compass point that inspires all of us in the solidarity movement.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network fully and unconditionally supports the prisoners in their demands and urges actions around the world by friends of Palestine and Palestinian communities to support these prisoners.

Take action now!

1. Sign on to this statement in support of the prisoners’ demandsOrganizational 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/HungerStrikeSolidarity

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. 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.