Activists in New York City protested on Monday, 30 October to urge freedom for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Bilal Diab, 32, and Hassan Shokeh, 29, have been on hunger strike since 17 October and 14 October, respectively. They have been joined on hunger strike by Hamza Bouzia and Musab Said. Diab, Shokeh and Bouzia are all refusing food to protest their “administrative detention,” imprisonment without charge or trial.
The protest, organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, took place outside the Best Buy electronics store in Union Square. It also demanded that Hewlett-Packard (HP) companies end their contracts with Israeli prisons, military and security forces and other occupation infrastructure, urging a boycott of HP consumer products, including computers, tablets, printers and ink, until the corporation stops its profiteering from the oppression and occupation of Palestinians. It comes as part of a growing global boycott campaign targeting HP for its complicity in Israeli occupation and apartheid.
The protest also took place the day following Israeli missile strikes that killed 12 Palestinians in Gaza in a tunnel near Khan Younis. Participants in the demonstration expressed their outrage at the occupation strikes, demanding an end to the siege on Gaza and the constant Israeli threat of war against Palestinians in the besieged Strip.
Protesters carried signs with images of Diab and Shokeh. Diab previously conducted a 78-day hunger strike along with fellow administrative detainee Thaer Halahleh, in 2012, winning his freedom. He was seized again by occupation forces on 14 July and ordered once again imprisoned without charge or trial. He launched his hunger strike after an Israeli court denied his appeal on 17 October.
Shokeh was also re-arrested on 29 September, less than one month after being released from Israeli prisons on 31 August, and ordered once again imprisoned without charge or trial. Along with Bouzia, Diab and Shokeh are demanding their immediate release from imprisonment without charge. They are among 450 Palestinians – out of a total of 6,200 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails – held in administrative detention.
Administrative detention orders, which are indefinitely renewable, were first introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate, and later continued by the Israeli occupation. The British origins of administrative detention were particularly resonant this week, as protesters also marked the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration in which British foreign minister Arthur Balfour expressed the official support of Britain for the Zionist movement in Palestine and put that support into action through the colonial mandate.
Samidoun activists joined many other organizations, including the NY4Palestine coalition of which they are a part, for a protest and march condemning British and Zionist colonization of Palestine on Thursday, 2 November, marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration. A full report on the #Balfour100 protest in New York is forthcoming.
Samidoun is also an endorser of a protest on 3 November, called “No Trump Day,” which is part of a global day of action organized by Korean activists against U.S. threats of war against North Korea. It will also conduct a study on the Balfour declaration and Zionist colonization of Palestine with imperialist support on 5 November. Supporters of Palestine and the Palestinian people are welcome to attend.