100 more prisoners join strike in Megiddo; Palestinian lawyers announce full boycott of military courts

As Palestinian prisoners’ 13th day of hunger strike continued, 100 more prisoners joined the hunger strike in Megiddo prison, announced Abdel-Fattah Dawla, the spokesperson for the national committee to support the strike.

The 100 prisoners joined the Freedom and Dignity Strike, launched on 17 April by 1500 Palestinian prisoners for a series of demands, including an end to denials of family visits, the right to appropriate medical care and treatment and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.

Meanwhile, Asra Voice reported that Israeli cellular networks had blocked cellular transmission for 24 hours near the border with Egypt, including in the areas near the Negev desert prison and Nafha prison. Yediot Ahronot reportedly stated that this was due to messages and interviews sent by the prisoners via secret cell phones inside prison sections about the hunger strike and the situation inside Israeli prisons.

Prisoners’ Affairs Committee lawyer Louay Akkeh reported that he had received a rare legal visit with four hunger strikers in Ofer prison. Only a few hunger strikers in Ofer and Ashkelon prisons have been allowed legal visits since the beginning of the strike; the Israeli Supreme Court will hold a hearing on 3 May on Palestinian lawyers’ challenge to the denial of legal visits for hunger-striking clients.

Akkeh met with Fadi Abu Aita, Louay al-Mansi, Sharar Mansour and Ahmad Sharabati, all of whom confirmed that they were currently striking and had been since 17 April, the first day of the strike. Akkeh said that his clients reported repeated pre-dawn raids on the strikers’ sections in Ofer, including confiscation of salt supplies. Palestinian hunger strikers consume only salt and water in the strike in order to preserve their health. Akkeh also reported that 10 prisoners in Ofer are suffering from fatigue and that two had been taken to the hospital after fainting; one required stitches as he had a head injury when falling. Prisoners on the strike have lost between 4 and 14 kilograms of weight, Akkeh reported.

Akkeh also said that Israeli prison guards and staff have attempted to offer sick or injured prisoners food during transportation to the hospital, and the prisoners continue to be denied changes of clothing and are allowed to wash their uniform only once weekly.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society and the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission announced that given the ongoing situation of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, the violations of their human rights and the denial of legal visits, they are moving to a full boycott of Israeli occupation military courts beginning Sunday, 30 April.

The organizations had previously announced a boycott of the military courts. However, beginning Sunday, the lawyers of these associations will fully implement this decision and boycott all hearings in the Israeli military courts except for the hearings on the extension of detention of jailed Palestinians, with the goal of the “complete closure of the occupation military courts.”

In Jerusalem, Israeli occupation forces seized five Palestinian young people in Jerusalem following a march in support of hunger strikers.  International protests continued in support of the strike, including in London, Berlin, Gothenburg, Montpellier, Rome, Loblenz, Winnipeg, Albertville, Bonn, Bremen, Memphis, Turin, and Rome.