There are currently 17 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails in the “Battle of Breaking the Chains.” The hunger strike is demanding an end to the practice of administrative detention. Administrative detention is the process by which Israel imprisons Palestinians without charge or trial for indefinitely renewable periods; there are hundreds of Palestinians held under administrative detention. No reason is revealed for their imprisonment; instead, a “secret file” produced by Israeli military intelligence serves as a pretext for their continued detention.
The first five hunger strikers: Nidal Abu Aker, Ghassan Zawahreh, Shadi Ma’ali, Munir Abu Sharar and Badr al-Ruzza – all held without charge under administrative detention – began refusing their meals on 20 August. They were soon joined by Bilal al-Saifi and Suleiman Skafi. In late September, another ten Palestinian prisoners joined the strike.
One hundred more prisoners – mostly administrative detainees – have pledged to join the strike on 10 October; 250 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have been returning their meals three times a week in unity with the strikers’ demands. Dozens of Palestinian administrative detainees are boycotting the military court sessions – sessions which simply “rubber-stamp” detention orders from the Israeli military.
The hunger strikers have been refusing food and vitamins since 20 August; they have lost massive amounts of weight, suffer constant headaches and body pains. Some are unable to walk. However, they have not been moved to hospitals – instead, they are being held in isolation cells in solitary confinement, as a means of isolating them from their fellow Palestinian prisoners and attempting to coerce them to end the strike.
In their isolation cells, they have been denied cold water and access to fresh air. All of their personal belongings, including books and papers, have been confiscated, and they have been denied blankets and pillows. Several of the strikers have been denied legal visits; and they have been transferred repeatedly – and abusively – from prison to prison, isolation cell to isolation cell, in a metal vehicle, shackled to a metal chair, known as the “bosta” – a lengthy, stressful and harmful procedure.
As the prisoners reach 40 days on hunger strike, an urgent call has been issued for support and international actions to build solidarity for the hunger strikers, protect their lives and demand their freedom.
Resources and Materials
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is making the following resources available to campaigners working to support the Battle of Breaking the Chains. We encourage you to download, distribute and use them widely!
Factsheet and Brochure
Posters and Postcards
Battle of Breaking the Chains
Nidal Abu Aker
Munir Abu Sharar
Social Media/Cover Images
Key Documents and Articles
- Urgent Call for Action: Join the Battle of Breaking the Chains!
- Abu Aker refuses water, says battle has entered new stage: “Bring our coffins or release us”
- Nidal Abu Aker continues hunger strike, issues open letter on Eid: “We will battle until we achieve our goals”
- Seven more Palestinian prisoners join hunger strike to break chains of administrative detention
- Steadfast for Palestine: The Heroes of the Battle of “Breaking the Chains” by Reham Alhelsi
- Battle of Breaking the Chains: 25 days of hunger strike for Palestinian prisoners
Suggestions for Actions
Do you want to support the prisoners in your area, in your community or on your campus? Here are a few suggested events you can do:
* “Salt and Water” Distribution – Palestinian university students in Gaza, Nablus and Bethlehem have all done this on their campuses – you can bring it to yours as well! Palestinian hunger strikers typically consume only salt and water during their hunger strikes.
Hand out small cups of water from a jug, or small bottles of water, along with salt packets. Label the cups or bottles with stickers of information about Palestinian prisoners (print out on mailing labels and stick on the cups or bottles) or just hand out flyers and factsheets with information along with the salt and water. A great activity for tabling.
* One-Day Hunger Strike – Set up a tent or table in your city or community and provide information about Palestine and hunger strikers. Let people know that people in your group are also on a solidarity one-day hunger strike in support of the prisoners. Write up a press release (even if it’s a small group) and send it to local, campus and progressive media in your area. Share information about the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.
* Demonstrate at Israeli Embassy, US Federal Building or Embassy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or other government building – Hold a protest and demand that Israel end administrative detention and release the prisoners. Demand that your government 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. G4S offices are also a great target for demonstrations – the British-Danish security firm subject to global boycott because it provides security systems and control rooms to Israel prisons.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to include your action on the list below. Upcoming events include:
- 3 October, Rome: Rally in Support of Hunger Striking Palestinian Prisoners
- 30 September, Berlin: Protest to free Palestinian Prisoners!
- 30 September, Milano: Support Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike
1. Sign on to this statement in support of the prisoners’ demand to End Administrative Detention. Organizational 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/EndAdministrativeDetention
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com to inform us of your action – we will publicize and share news with the prisoners.
5. 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.
6. 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 atbdsmovement.net.