Palestinian prisoner Sami Janazrah has now been on hunger strike for 52 days to demand his freedom from Israeli jails, where he is held under administrative detention without charge or trial. On Thursday, 21 April – his 50th day of hunger strike – he lost consciousness and suffered a head injury as he was transferred from isolation in the Naqab desert prison to isolation in Ela prison.
Despite refusing food and consuming only water since 3 March, he was held for 51 days in solitary confinement in an attempt to pressure him to end his hunger strike. He was finally transferred to hospital on Friday night, 22 April, after further deterioration of his health. A Palestinian refugee from Al-Fuwwar refugee camp near al-Khalil, Janazra, 43, is married with three children and has spent nearly nine years in Israeli prisons in the past. He is reportedly suffering from low blood pressure, seizures and fainting spells, and his weight has dropped to 52 kg.
Fellow Palestinian prisoners held under administrative detention without charge or trial, Fouad Assi and Adib Mafarjah, have now been on hunger strike for 20 days, also demanding their freedom and an end to the practice of administrative detention. Approximately 700 Palestinians – out of 7,000 total Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails – are being held on the basis of “secret evidence” in administrative detention. Administrative detention orders are issued for up to six months at a time and can be indefinitely renewed; some Palestinian prisoners have spent years in administrative detention without charge or trial.
Both Assi and Mafarjah are also held in isolation in Ela prison. Assi’s cell is inspected every two hours; all of his electrical appliances have been confiscated. He is the twin brother of Mohammed Assi, who was killed by the Israeli occupation military on 22 October 2013. Assi has been held without charge or trial since 9 August 2015. Mafarjah is also held in solitary confinement, with all of his appliances and clothing confiscated following his strike. He has been imprisoned without charge or trial since 10 December 2014.
Abdel-Razzaq Farraj, Palestinian civil society leader with the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, land defender, and former administrative detainee, wrote that:
“As soon as the first six months pass by, you realize that this is only the beginning. The snow boll rolls over and over, and gets bigger. Despite that, the dream of freedom keeps renewing itself, and you hope for freedom with the end of the new administrative detention period. You start telling yourself; perhaps they no longer think I am a danger to their safety and the safety of their public. ”They have released many prisoners – I might be as lucky as them!”
Your eyes never leave the prison’s door. You look and wait. Every passing paper can be your detention renewal order.
As soon as your virtual release date nears, you family begins to continuously ask, “Anything knew?” You answer, not yet, but don’t be too hopeful. “A renewed detention order is always a possibility.” Your hopes and those of your families rise as days pass by. But a stroke of a pen by the military commander is enough to renew your detention for yet another undefined period.
How do you tell your family that you won’t be with them? How do you tell your children that their hope for a release must be delayed for undefined months to come?”
Two more Palestinian prisoners – Mahmoud Suwayta and Shukri Khawaja – ended their hunger strikes on Thursday. Suwayta refused food for 10 days in protest of denial of family visits; he ended his strike after his son, Mutassim, was allowed to visit him on Thursday, 21 April. Khawaja also ended his 12-day strike on Thursday in protest of his solitary confinement after an agreement that would see his isolation ended in the next 3-5 months and his transfer to Hadarim prison. He will receive a family visit in one and 1/2 months and will not be denied access to the canteen (prison store), as he had been. His strike had been supported by various protest strikes of 106 fellow Palestinian prisoners.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges people of conscience around the world, Palestine solidarity organizations and supporters of justice to take action in support of these Palestinian prisoners on the front lines in the struggle against occupation and apartheid. Samidoun will be holding a protest in New York on Friday, 29 April at 4:00 pm outside G4S offices at 19 W. 44th St in Manhattan for their freedom. We urge people around the world to join us in protest, action, and raising our voices to demand freedom for Sami Janazrah, Fouad Assi, Adib Mafarjah and all Palestinian prisoners!
1. Protest at the Israeli consulate or embassy, public square, or G4S office 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to inform us of your action – we will publicize and share news with the prisoners.
2. 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.
3. 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 it. Palestinian political prisoners have issued a specific call urging action on G4S. Learn more about BDS at bdsmovement.net.