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.
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 univiersities 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.