Second day of mass hunger strike: Palestinian prisoners thrown in isolation, denied legal and family visits

Graphic by Hafez Omar

Several Palestinian prisoners leading the hunger strike of Freedom and Dignity launched on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, have been transferred into isolation and all striking prisoners are being denied lawyer and family visits on the second day of the collective mass strike.

Fateh central committee member Marwan Barghouthi was transported to Jalameh detention center’s isolation cells, as were veteran prisoners Karim Younes (the Palestinian prisoner serving the longest uninterrupted sentence in Israeli prison) and Mahmoud Abu Srour. Also transferred to isolation in the Ela prison in Beersheva were Mohammed Zawahra, Nasser al-Oweis and Anas Jaradat, with the confiscation of all of their belongings.  Jawad Boulos, director of the Legal Unit of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said that he was denied visits with both Barghouthi and Oweis, stating that this is the official Israeli position of denying legal visits to isolated hunger striking prisoners.

In addition, the Gilboa prison administration prevented lawyers from visiting any hunger striking prisoners on Tuesday, 18 April, declaring that there is a “state of emergency” inside the prison.  In response, the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society declared that Palestinian lawyers with their institutions would boycott Israeli occupation courts beginning Wednesday.

The Israeli prison administration also reportedly declared that Barghouthi would be brought before a “disciplinary hearing” for publishing his article in the New York Times about the reasons for the prisoners’ strike.

“Decades of experience have proved that Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong, by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their families and communities, using humiliating measures to compel subjugation. In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it,” wrote Barghouthi.

Qaddoura Fares of the Palestinian Prisoners Society stated that hunger striking prisoners are being denied family visits and that the prison administration has instructed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that any family visits with striking prisoners will be denied for the duration of the strike as a “punitive measure.” Putting an end to Israeli denial of family visits is one of the major demands of the strike.

31 more Palestinian prisoners were transferred from the Ramon prison to Nafha prison while the prison administration imposed more sanctions on the striking prisoners, including the confiscation of their property and extra clothing, allowing them to keep only the clothes they are wearing and blocking local and Arab television stations from prison TVs.  In Ofer prison, Section 11 was turned into an isolation section within the prison for the hunger strikers; the prisoners on strike were subject to strip searches and then their clothes were replaced with “Shabas” prison uniforms; their belongings were taken and they were given dirty blankets.

As Palestinian prisoners faced repression on their second day of hunger strike, broad support was felt for the prisoners throughout Palestine. In Palestinian cities, large rallies were held to support the strikers, in Gaza City, Ramallah, Jenin, al-Khalil, Qalqilya and elsewhere. In Bethlehem and near Ofer prison, marches in support of the prisoners were attacked by Israeli occupation forces, who seized 8 demonstrators outside Ofer prison.  Dozens were injured by tear gas inhalation in Bethlehem when tear gas canisters were fired on the rally.

1500 Palestinian prisoners launched their hunger strike on Monday, 17 April to achieve a series of demands, including access to public telephones for prisoners, an end to the denial of family visits, proper medical care, and an end to policies of solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.

As the strike’s second day began, Palestinian lawyer Karim Ajwa said that a number of ill prisoners in Ashkelon prison announced that they were joining the strike, including Said Musallam, Othman Abu Khairaj, Ibrahim Abu Mustafa, Yassar Abu Turk, Nazih Othman, Ayman al-Sharabati and Abdel-Majid Mahdi. In addition, Ajwa noted that the sanctions against striking prisoners have a particular impact on sick prisoners, including the confiscation of blankets and electrical appliances.  250 Fateh prisoners in the Negev desert prison announced that they will join the hunger strike in a statement released from the prison, saying that “all members of the Fateh movement in the Negev prison have decided to join this revolutionary step of struggle and participate in the open hunger strike.”

We urge all supporters of Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people to urgently take action and join in the campaign of solidarity to achieve their demands.

Take action:

1) Organize or join an event as part of the Week of Action for Palestinian Prisoners’ Day in support of the hunger strikers. Protest outside your local Israeli embassy, consulate or mission, or at a public square or government building. You can drop a banner or put up a table to support the prisoners and their strike. See the list of current international events here, and add your own:

2) Join the social media campaign to support Palestinian prisoners. Take a picture of yourself or send a graphic with the hashtags below. Post on your own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and share with the Facebook event: Slogans via Addameer:
Palestinian Human Rights Defenders are #NotATarget #PalestinianPrisonersDay
Palestinian children are #NotATarget #PalestinianPrisonersDay
Stop Administrative Detention #StopAD
Freedom for Palestinian Political Prisoners #April17 #PrisonersDay
I stand in solidarity with Palestinian Political Prisoners #PrisonersDay

3) Write letters and make phone calls to protest the violation of the rights of Palestinian political prisoners and urge your government officials to pressure Israel to accept the demands of the Palestinian political prisoners.

4) Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Join the BDS Movement to highlight the complicity of corporations like Hewlett-Packard and the continuing involvement of G4S in Israeli policing and prisons. Build a campaign to boycott Israeli goods, impose a military embargo on Israel, or organize around the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

Materials to support your events and organizing are available for download here: Please contact or reach out to us on Facebook for questions or to share your actions.