Day 20 of the #DignityStrike: Palestinian hunger strikers’ numbers grow as threats and repression escalate

As Palestinian prisoners are entering their 20th day of hunger strike on the Strike of Dignity and Freedom, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have announced they will join the strike in the coming several days, even as the Palestinian prisoners’ movement has issued a new statement urging action to protect the prisoners’ lives at this critical moment.

Given the lack of attention to the demands of the prisoners and the extreme danger faced by striking prisoners today, an increasing number of prisoners will join the strike to pressure for acceptance of the strike’s basic demands, reported Asra Voice.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement issued a statement, urging Palestinian, Arab and international action for the strikers as new repressive measures were announced.  “This trend carries with it preparation for a targeted crime against the prisoners with the intention of murder. It is clear that we are in the next stage now, that of repression, abuse, and attempts to break the strike through threatening the lives of the prisoners. The ongoing preparations indicate that there is a decision taken against the prisoners to their deaths at the hands of a gang of fascists in Tel Aviv. This is what makes this confrontation an extraordinary moment. Dealing with it requires vision, programs and activities that rise to the level required,” wrote the prisoners, urging “besieging the embassies of the occupation” around the world.

Approximately 1,500 Palestinian prisoners launched their hunger strike on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, for a series of basic human rights demands including the right to family visits, to pursue higher education, to proper health care and medical treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and imprisonment without charge or trial. The strike has now continued for 20 days; an increasing number of strikers, including prominent leaders, have joined the strike.

Five prisoners held in Ofer prison have joined the strike on Friday, 5 May: Ghalib Warid, Ahmad Batajneh, Shadi Shalaldeh, Ashraf Zaben and Zakaria Kaabiyeh. They announced that 21 total prisoners were newly joining the strike in Ofer as of Friday evening.  The strikers have faced sharp repression, including frequent and arduous transfers, isolation and solitary confinement, confiscation of all personal belongings, denial of access to recreation, denial of legal visits and family visits. The abusive transfers continued inside Israeli jails: Nael Barghouthi, the longest-held Palestinian prisoner; imprisoned journalist and former long-term hunger striker Mohammed al-Qeeq; and Fayez Hamed were all transferred from Ohli Kedar prison to isolation in Ashkelon prison.

Ma’an News reported that Gilad Erdan, the far-right Israeli Minister of Public Security, has ordered even heavier sanctions against Palestinian prisoners, including levying fines of up to NIS 1,000 ($270 USD) on hunger strikers, cuts to legal visits and rejecting the prisoners’ choice of lawyers (following the decision of the Israeli supreme court on Wednesday, 3 May after Palestinian lawyers’ petition; prior to this, nearly all legal visits had been blocked); the frequent use of repressive units and attacks on prisoners.  Erdan was the promulgator of Israeli legislation to force-feed Palestinian prisoners and is reportedly considering bringing doctors from abroad to forcibly feed Palestinian prisoners in a “field hospital” in the Negev desert prison.

On Friday morning, 5 May, one of these repressive units in the Israeli Ramon prison beat Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Abu Rayyan, reported the Handala Center for Prisoners and Former Prisoners, highlighting the increased tension in the prison as a result. Abu Rayyan is an ill prisoner who suffers from a foot disease; his foot is threatened with amputation and he is severely in need of follow-up medical care and treatment.

Marwan Barghouthi, a prominent Palestinian leader of the hunger strike and a member of the Fateh central committee, is currently isolated in Jalameh prison. The prison administration has repeatedly attempted to evade negotiating with Barghouthi on the strike demands, which has been rejected by other Palestinian prisoners, including imprisoned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, who joined the strike on Thursday, 4 May along with other prominent Palestinian leaders.

Issa Qaraqe of the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission reported on Friday, 3 May that Barghouthi’s cell measures one meter by two meters, has no windows, and that he has been prevented from recreation and thus has not seen the sun from the beginning of the strike. Qaraqe also said that Barghouthi has lost 10 kg in weight (approx. 20 lbs) and is facing serious health dangers. On Thursday, 4 May, despite the limited decision of the Israeli Supreme Court to prevent the Israeli Prison Service from denying legal visits from a few approved lawyers to hunger strikers, Barghouthi was refused a legal visit with lawyer Tamim Younis.

Held in isolation in Nitzan prison, hunger-striking prisoner Nasser Abu Srour reported during his first legal visit that his salt had been confiscated on the first day of the strike and that some prisoners had been reliant on water only without salt for 15 days before gaining access to salt again.  Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike consume only water and salt to protect their lives and heath during the strike. This has inspired numerous actions and videos around the world labeled the #SaltWaterChallenge in support of the striking prisoners.

Events and mobilizations continued in Palestine and internationally in support of the prisoners. In Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya, demonstrations rallied on Friday to support the Palestinian prisoners, urging their liberation and victory in their hunger strike.

In Palestine, Israeli occupation forces attacked multiple demonstrations for the prisoners; in al-Khalil, three Palestinian young people were seized by occupation forces while others were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets; dozens were affected by tear gas inhalation. In Beit Ummar, one Palestinian youth was wounded by live bullets fired by Israeli occupation forces; in Nablus, among the injured were three paramedicss. In Nabi Saleh, four Palestinians were injured and dozens overcome by tear gas inhalation as Palestinian youth demanded freedom for the prisoners. In Bil’in, Israeli occupation forces seized the head of the village council, Basil Mansour, along with Ahmed Abu Rahma during the weekly demonstration in support of the prisoners.

Internationally, protests and demonstrations around the world took place to support the prisoners on Friday, 5 May, including in Dublin, Waterford, Edinburgh, Manchester, Brussels, Rotterdam, Toronto, New York and Fort Lauderdale. On Saturday, 6 May, numerous international actions are planned, including a demonstration in Istanbul, Turkey, organized by Samidoun and BDS-Turkey. National days of action are organized in England and Scotland in support of the Palestinian prisoners, as well as a day-long hunger strike action in Berlin, Germany. Protests will take place in London, Birmingham, Whitstable, Norwich, Sheffield, Oxford, Halifax, Lewisham, Bristol, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Inverness, Aberdeen, Uppsala, Dublin, Newry, Derry, Limerick, Berlin, Cologne, Stuttgart, Paris, and Auckland, among others.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges ongoing and escalated action to support the strikers at this critical moment.

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, on Facebook, or use the form to tell us about your actions. Building this strong list of actions around the world will help to underline the global support for Palestinian political prisoners in their struggle for freedom, and the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation. You can download flyers and posters for your events to support the prisoners among our resources. 

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, 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. Take the #SaltWaterChallenge! Drink water and salt on video and add a message of support for the hunger strikers. Share and reshare information about the #DignityStrike.

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.