Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike for 30 days are being denied access to fresh air, cold water and medication by the Israeli prison administration, they reported through their lawyers with the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. At the same time, prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in several prisons held a one-day solidarity hunger strike on Saturday, 19 September, in support of their striking comrades.
Nidal Abu Aker, Ghassan Zawahreh, Shadi Ma’ali, Munir Abu Sharar and Badr al-Ruzza launched their strike on August 20. All are held under administrative detention without charge or trial; their strike demands the end of administrative detention and the freedom of all administrative detainees. The strike was soon joined by Bilal Daoud Saifi and Suleiman Skafi. All have been thrown into isolation and repeatedly transferred from prison to prison.
Shadi Ma’ali, isolated in Naqab prison after 30 days of hunger strike, reported to Addameer lawyer Samer Samaan that the openings in cell gates (where light and air enter) are being blocked by the Israeli prison administration, and they are being denied access to cold water, provided with hot water only, meant to make their consumption of water difficult and distasteful as a means of psychological pressure on the strikers. Ma’ali noted that it was “especially important for them to hear about solidarity actions in support of their legitimate demands….there is no room for retreat and surrender.” Ma’ali also reported that he has a constant headache, cannot sleep, and has lost a significant amount of weight.
Munir Abu Sharar, who also met with Samaan, said that he is sleeping on a mattress next to the doorstep in his isolation cell, where a small amount of air enters through the space beneath the gate. All of the strikers’ personal belongings have been confiscated, and they are being denied access to clothing, books, blankets and pillows. Bilal Daoud Saifi has been denied medication for a chronic brain condition.
Nidal Abu Aker refused to appear before the court confirming his administrative detention extension for three months on September 17, part of the boycott of the administrative detention courts by dozens of Palestinian administrative detainees. He is also refusing vitamins and minerals and rejects medical examinations. In a meeting with lawyer Karim Ajwa, Abu Aker urged a broad national campaign to confront administrative detention and to free the administrative detainees.
Repeated transfer via “bosta” has been another method of intimidation and punishment of the striking prisoners. Ghassan Zawahreh was denied a legal visit arranged in advance at Ela prison; his lawyer, Farah Bayadseh, was told that he was being transferred to the Naqab prison. When Bayadseh arrived at the Naqab prison, she was told that Zawahreh would spend the whole day in transfers.
Badr al-Ruzza’s family spoke with Ahrar Wledna about his hunger strike; his father said that “Before my son Badr began his strike, he told me about his intention to confront administrative detention…he agreed with a number of his fellow prisoners to launch a strike to end the injustice against them…My son and his comrades have a collective decision to not meet individually with the prison administration, but collectively with each other…My son refused to end his hunger strike in exchange for being released on 10 November 2015, and he made this response in consultation with his fellow striking prisoners.”
Prisoners of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Nafha, Eshel and Ramon prisons engaged in a solidarity hunger strike on Saturday, September 19 to support their striking comrades, and 250 Palestinian prisoners in various prisons are returning their meals three days a week, from September 15 through October 21, as part of an escalating series of protest actions which 100 more prisoners have announced their intent to join.
Events outside have continued in support of the prisoners; a tent has been set up in the center of Ramallah which has been filled with supporters for the past three days, while youth in Gaza ran a race to support the prisoners.