Tenth day of hunger strike: Palestinian prisoners face worsening health as strike grows

On the tenth day of the Strike of Freedom and Dignity, over 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners are continuing their hunger strike in Israeli jails. On Monday, 24 April, Hadarim prison, which had held approximately 120 Palestinian political prisoners, was nearly emptied by the Israel Prison Service. 100 Palestinian prisoners have previously been transferred into isolation in other prisons and 8 prisoners were slated for transfer to Eshel prison on Monday. However, Hamas leader Ibrahim Hamed was kept inside Hadarim prison, with only a small number of other prisoners, reported Asra Media.

This is particularly notable, as Hadarim prison was the first to join unanimously, with prisoners from all Palestinian political organizations participating in the hunger strike; in fact, the strike itself was announced in a statement from imprisoned Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi in Hadarim prison. Barghouthi is now held in solitary confinement with other leaders of the strike, including Kamil Abu Hanish, Wajdi Jawdat, Anas Jaradat and Karim Younes.

Palestinian prisoners in Ramon prison who have not yet joined the strike begain to escalate protest actions, reported the Handala Center for Prisoners and Former Prisoners, noting that a number of prisoners had begun to return meals as part of escalating protests.  In addition, 11 prisoners of the leftist Populr Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Megiddo prison, led by Nidal Daghlas and Sami Subuh, entered the hunger strike.

Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike continue to be subject to denials of legal visits; only three prisoners in Ofer prison have received visits so far and new denials of visit requests were received from Megiddo and Ashkelon prisons. Hunger strikers are calling for the implementation of a series of demands, including an end to the denials of family visits, appropriate medical care for Palestinian prisoners and an end to solitary confinement and “administrative detention,” imprisonment without charge or trial.

Addameer lawyers Mona Naddaf, Samer Samaan and Farah Bayadsi visited non-striking prisoners in Nafha, Hadarim and Ashkelon prisons on Tuesday, 25 April, after being denied visitation with striking prisoners. The non-striking prisoners relayed information about the conditions of the strikers, including that in Hadarim, sick prisoners were taken to Section 5, a civilian detention center with no television or electrical devices and only bare sleeping mats. In all of the prisons, strikers are isolated, denied family visits, legal visits and group prayers; there are multiple reports of confiscation of salt, and prisoners must drink from the tap rather than the usually-provided drinking water.

Following the launch of the strike on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, strikers have been hit with an array of repressive sanctions, including blocking family visits, group prayer and recreation and confiscation of clothing, blankets and other materials. Many strikers have been moved into isolation while many others have been repeatedly transferred from prison to prison. These transfers continued on Tuesday as the prison administration transferred Mohammed Musleh, Basil Aref, Naim Misran, Zia al-Agha, Rami al-Aila and Hussein al-Zuraie were taken from Gilboa to Nafha prison.  Basil al-Asmar and Ahmed Obeidat were transferred on Tuesday from Nafha to Ramle prison; the Handala Center noted that “these moves are an attempt to create a state of instability and stress on the strike leaders as part of a pressure campaign against them.”

On Tuesday, 25 April, several striking prisoners, including Musallam Thabet, Mohammed Abed Rabbo and Amjad al-Namoura, experienced deterioration of their health, one day after isolated imprisoned Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi experienced a deterioration in his health, refusing treatment or examination.  Several seriously ill prisoners are participating in the hunger strike, including heart patients Said Musallam, Nazih Othman and Riad Amour, who is so ill that he is permanently held in the Ramle prison clinic. Also participating on the strike are Ibrahim Abu Mustafa, ill with serious heart and kidney disease, and Kamal Abu ‘Ar, who suffers from liver cancer.

Gaza City. Photo by Khaled Hashem.

Popular support for the strike continued throughout Palestine as prisoner support tents filled with families and supporters of the strikers and marchers took to the streets. On Tuesday, 25 April, the national committee to support the strike urged the boycott of Israeli goods, calling on merchants and traders not to sell these goods in order to support the prisoners in their strike.

Photo from Nablus prisoners’ tent

Outside Gilboa prison, where hundreds of prisoners are participating in the hunger strike, the families of Palestinian prisoners from Jerusalem and Palestine ’48 gathered in support of their hunger-striking loved ones. Participants in the protest include Amjad Abu Assab, the chair of the association of families of prisoners in Jerusalem and Osama Saadi, member of the Knesset. The participants raised pictures of their children and the Palestinian flag.  This protest joined actions in Haifa, Yafa, Nablus, Salfit, Ramallah, al-Khalil, Gaza City and throughout Palestine.

Thursday, 27 April will mark a general strike for all commercial, educational, governmental, university and labor sectors in occupied Palestine in support of the prisoners’ strike. Also on Thursday, new prisoners will join the strike in Ofer, Megiddo, Negev and Ramon prisons, reported Ma’an News, including former long-term hunger striker Samer Issawi, who has had his original sentence reimposed by an Israeli military commission on the basis of secret evidence; he was freed in the 2011 Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange.

International support for the prisoners has also continued to grow. On Thursday, in conjunction with the general strike, lawyers, legal workers and law students in the United States working with the National Lawyers Guild will engage in a one-day hunger strike, while an artists’ mobilization for the hunger strike is being organized by Decolonize This Place. Neoklis Sylikiotis, the chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Relations with Palestine, issued a statement on Monday, 24 April following its meeting in Brussels in support of the hunger strikers’ demands for rights and dignity.

South African activists, including former prisoners of the anti-apartheid movement, also came together for a press conference in Johannesburg on Monday to announce a series of nationally coordinated actions in support of the Palestinian prisoners’ strike. Omar Barghouti, a prominent leader and of the Palestinian Boycott National Commission (BNC), was awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize in New Haven, Connecticut on 24 April, where he dedicated the prize to the strikers:

“As I humbly accept the Gandhi Peace Award for 2017, I dedicate it to the heroic Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike in Israel’s apartheid dungeons and to every Palestinian refugee yearning to return home to Palestine to reunite with the land and the homeland.”

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges all supporters of Palestine and friends of justice to come together to take action from 27 April to 30 April and stand with Palestinian prisoners striking for freedom and dignity!


Materials to support your events and organizing are available for download here: http://samidoun.net/2017/03/call-to-organize-palestinian-prisoners-week-of-action-14-to-24-april-2017/ Please contact samidoun@samidoun.net or reach out to us on Facebook for questions or to share your actions.

1) Organize or join an event 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: send your events and actions to us at samidoun@samidoun.net, on Facebook, or use the form to tell us about your actions.

2) Hunger Strike for Justice! Join the Palestinian hunger strikers to support their demands with a symbolic one-day hunger strike in your community or on your campus. Tell us about your solidarity strike at samidoun@samidoun.net, on Facebook, or use the form.

3) Call your government officials and demand action.  Call your foreign affairs officials – and members of parliament – and urge action for the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.

Call your country’s officials urgently:

  • Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop: + 61 2 6277 7500
  • Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland: +1-613-992-5234
  • European Union Commissioner Federica Mogherini: +32 (0) 2 29 53516
  • New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully: +64 4 439 8000
  • United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson: +44 20 7008 1500
  • United States President Donald Trump: 1-202-456-1111

Tell your government: Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike for their basic human rights – for family visits, medical care, and freedom from imprisonment without charge or trial. Governments must pressure Israel to recognize the prisoners’ demands!

4) Take action on social media! Support the hunger strike on social media. Post a picture of yourself with a sign saying you support the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike! Include the hashtag #DignityStrike when posting your photo to Facebook or Twitter. Share and re-share information about the strike with the #DignityStrike hashtag.

5) Build the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign! 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.