17 Palestinian prisoners participating in the hunger strike in solidarity with Bilal Kayed were transferred from Megiddo to Jalameh prison and other Israeli prisons in the south, in a new campaign of transfers targeting the escalating prisoners’ protests demanding Kayed’s freedom. 10 more prisoners in Megiddo were isolated in solitary confinement for their participation in the strike.
Kayed’s 14 1/2 year prison sentence ended on 13 June, but instead of meeting his family at the Israeli occupation checkpoint where they waited, he was instead ordered to six months’ administrative detention without charge or trial. In response, he launched a hunger strike alongside an escalating collective protest campaign including periodic hunger strikes and other protests inside the prison including hundreds of prisoners, organized by his comrades in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Several PFLP prisoner leaders – and organizers of the collective actions inside the Israeli prisons demanding Kayed’s release – Wael Jaghoub and Salah Ali – were transferred and isolated as well.
Kayed’s case is seen as a potential precedent threatening all Palestinian prisoners who could be released from lengthy sentences only to be ordered to administrative detention, indefinitely renewable imprisonment without charge or trial. Hundreds of prisoners are participating in a two-day protest hunger strike on 24 and 25 June – the same days of international protests and actions for Kayed’s freedom, with events taking place in New York, Den Haag, Athens, Brussels, Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam (photo above via Students for Justice in Palestine), Dublin, Edinburgh, Torino, Milan, and elsewhere.
Noting the importance of the role of international solidarity in supporting the prisoners’ struggle, the striking PFLP prisoners issued a statement, saying:
“We are aware that the price of freedom may be high, but we choose this road unswervingly, whatever sacrifices may be required. There is no room to retreat from the previously announced steps of protest in this ongoing battle of freedom, as part of this ongoing battle, and confrontation of administrative detention and the policy of isolation. We announce that all prisoners of the Front in occupation prisons will engage in a hunger strike for two days on June 24 and 25, 2016….
In this context, we call on our people to build wider solidarity with the prisoners of freedom in their battle, through active participation in events and actions, throughout occupied Palestine. And we send our greetings to those in Palestine and around the world who join in our battle and organize events in solidarity with the cause of our comrade Bilal Kayed and to protest against the policy of administrative detention, and highlight the role of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network in this regard.”
Raafat Hamdouna of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies said on Thursday, 23 June that the case of Kayed threatens setting a dangerous precedent, praising the role of the PFLP prisoners in fighting this battle in the prisons. He called on all Palestinian and international organizations to work to support the prisoners in their struggle for freedom.