Hunger strike enters second week: more strikers join Palestinian prisoners’ protest

As Palestinian prisoners enter their second week of hunger strike, the approximately 1,500 Palestinians beginning their eighth day without food continue to face a campaign of repression inside Israeli jails.

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike continue to be denied lawyers’ visits; only several prisoners held in Ofer prison have been able to receive visits from a lawyer. All of the other strikers, including the strike leaders held in isolation in Jalameh prison, have been denied legal visits since they launched their strike on 17 April. The strike, labeled the Strike for Freedom and Dignity, calls for a series of demands, including an end to the denial of family visits, a public pay telephone in each prison wing for family phone calls, proper medical care, and the end of solitary confinement and “administrative detention,” imprisonment without charge or trial. Palestinian lawyers continued their boycott of Israeli occupation military courts for the fourth day in response to the denial of legal visits.

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike – who consume only salt and water – have reported confiscation of salt by the prison administration as well as refusal to provide packaged water or allow access to the “canteen,” prison store. A series of hunger strike leaders, including Marwan Barghouthi, Karim Younis, Anas Jaradat, Kamil Abu Hanish, Nader Sadaqa and Wajdi Jawdat, have been transferred to solitary confinement in Jalameh prison, while in many prisons, strkers have been moved into isolation. Yesterday, hunger-striker Khaled Salahat Abu Bader was moved to solitary confinement in Gilboa prison.

Palestinian prisoners also reported that medical authorities within the prisons are attempting to frighten and intimidate prisoners from joining the strike, including distributing a leaflet among prisoners warning them of the dangers of sudden death, kidney damage and hair loss associated with hunger striking. However, new groups of prisoners continue to join the strike, including 25 joining today from the Ramon prison, reported Issa Qaraqe of the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission.

Palestinian popular solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners continued to grow, as the Fateh movement and others called for a “day of rage” on Friday, 28 April and large groups of Palestinian political, social and community organizations called a general strike on Thursday, 27 April, to shut down all commerce and business in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike and their demands. In addition, the hunger strike has provoked stronger implementation of the boycott of Israeli goods, including a boycott day of action on Tuesday, 25 April and volunteer visits to markets with posters and information about boycotting all Israeli products in the market.

On Sunday, activities and protests continued throughout Palestine, in Yatta, Jerusalem, Bir Saba, Nablus, Ramallah, Qalqilya, Gaza, Jenin, Jericho, Bethlehem, al-Khalil, Salfit and throughout occupied Palestine. Palestinian judges held a sit-in outside the judicial complex in Ramallah and all local courts in solidarity with the striking prisoners.  Today in Palestine, marches in Ramallah and el-Bireh will proceed to the Yasser Arafat roundabout before a car caravan protest to Beitunia; in Bethlehem, a human chain in Manger Square will support the strikers. In al-Khalil, a solidarity event will rally for the hunger-striking prisoners while in Nablus, families of the prisoners will gather in the solidarity tent. In ‘Ara, occupied Palestine ’48, a poetry reading will stand with the prisoners.

Internationally, protests and actions in support of the prisoners convened in Beirut, Chicago, and Milan among other locations, while international events will take place on Monday, 24 April in Portland, Athens and Johannesburg, South Africa, where a new South African initiative in support of the prisoners will be announced.  The Arab Parliamentarians Union expressed its support to the hunger strikers as did German parliamentarian Annette Groth, who said:

“I emphatically express my solidarity with those protesting hungerstrikers, who are committed to adequate and humane detention conditions in Israeli prisons. The abuse and torture committed in these places must come to an immediate end, the Israeli authorities and the Israeli government must ensure proper medical treatment and nutrition for the prisoners, along with access to education, family visits and the unconditional cessation of solitary confinement, which should really go without saying….I call upon the Federal Government to insist that their Israeli partners put an end to the often random arresting of Palestinians and to introduce humane treatment in prisons. In particular, adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child must have the highest priority here!”

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is urging the organizing of events and actions from Thursday, 27 April through Sunday, 30 April as part of a comprehensive weekend of action and solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners’ strike.