14th day of hunger strike: Karim Younes vows strikers to continue until “victory or death”

Photo: Quds News Network

As hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners entered their 14th day of hunger strike, completing their second week of strike, the longest consecutively-held Palestinian prisoner and a leader of the strike, Karim Younes, vowed to continue the strike “until victory or death.”

Younes, a Palestinian prisoner from ‘Ara in occupied Palestine ’48 who has spent over 35 years in Israeli prison, had a hearing in the Haifa District Court on Sunday, 30 May to consider the petition of his lawyers, Yamen Zeidan and Tamim Younes, to visit him during the strike. Like the vast majority of hunger strikers, Younes has been denied legal and family visits since the beginning of the strike on 17 April. During his appearance in the court, Younes was visibly fatigued and he has lost 10 kg (20 pounds) of weight since the beginning of his strike.

A hearing will be held on 3 May by the Israeli Supreme Court regarding a filing by Adalah and the Prisoners Affairs’ Commission on the general denial of legal visits to Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. On Sunday, the Prisoners Affairs Commission and Palestinian Prisoners Society announced that they are implementing a full boycott of Israeli occupation military courts based on the continued denial of legal visits. Hundreds of international lawyers expressed their solidarity in a statement originated by the National Lawyers Guild in the U.S.

With other strike leaders, Younes has been repeatedly transferred from prison to prison, first from Hadarim prison to isolation in Jalameh prison and now to Gilboa prison. 1500 Palestinian prisoners launched their hunger strike, the Strike of Freedom and Dignity, on 17 April. They are demanding basic human rights, inclduing an end to the denial of family visits, appropriate medical care, the right to education and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.

The strikers have been met with harsh repression inside the prisons. Aside from a few visits for prisoners in Ashkelon and Ofer prisons, nearly all of the 1500 strikers have been denied legal visits; all have been denied family visits. Their personal belongings and clothing have been confiscated; many prisoners have even reported that the salt that they consume with water to sustain their health and lives has been confiscated by Israeli prison administration.

Striking prisoners have been repeatedly transferred from prison to prison; many have been moved to isolation sections. Strike leaders, like Younes, Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine prison branch leader Kamil Abu Hanish have been thrown into solitary confinement. Prisoners have been subjected to repeated late-night and pre-dawn raids by repressive units. On Sunday, Nasser Oweis, held in isolation in Ayalon Ramle prison, was assaulted by repressive forces.

Meanwhile, the media committee of the strike reported potential overtures for negotiations by the Israeli prison administration since Saturday; however, they noted as well that the prison administration is so far insisting upon the exclusion of Marwan Barghouthi, the imprisoned Fateh leader designated as spokesperson by Fateh prisoners when announcing the strike.

Palestinian and international actions continued in support of the prisoners. On Sunday, 30 April, international events took place in Melbourne, Malmo, Padua, and Milan, while many international cities will see Palestinian contingents and a strong presence in support of the Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian liberation movement in general on 1 May, International Workers’ Day. Among other cities, events in Athens, Liege, Copenhagen, Brussels, New York, Lille, Arras, Lyon, Paris, Metz, Berlin, Montpellier, Cologne, London, Los Angeles and New Jersey will include calls for the liberation of Palestinian political prisoners and the Palestinian people.

Photo: Quds News Network

As protests continued to grow, more activists engaged in solidarity hunger strikes with the prisoners. At the University of Manchester in the UK, five students are continuing a solidarity hunger strike to support the Palestinian prisoners.

Photo: Quds News Network

In Palestine, they are joined by a number of prisoners’ family members, as well as eight activists in Nablus, who have launched a solidarity strike in the prisoners’ support tents. At Bir Zeit University, five students, all former prisoners themselves, have launched a five-day hunger strike to support the prisoners: Yasser Abu Remaileh, Lina Khattab, Abed Barbar, Yousef Barghouthi and Jihad Manasra.