Palestinian prisoners launch new hunger strikes against administrative detention

Three Palestinian prisoners launched a new hunger strike on Sunday, 12 August inside Israeli jails, demanding freedom from Israeli administrative detention, where they are held without charge or trial. Saddam Awad, 28, from the village of Beit Ummar, Khaled al-Battat, 46, from the village of al-Dhahriyeh, and Abbas Abu Aliya, 21, from the village of Mughir, launched a hunger strike against their imprisonment without charge or trial.

Awad has been arrested several times since 2009, spending 7 years in Israeli prisons; he was released in 2011 as part of the Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange. He was detained again for four years and then was seized once more by Israeli occupation forces in April of 2018, ordered jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention.

Abu Aliya, on the other hand, has been held under administrative detention without charge or trial for 14 months. His detention was suddenly renewed for another four months on Sunday, 12 August, as he had been preparing for his release.

Battat, a former prisoner who has spent 14 years in Israeli prison in the past, was seized by Israeli occupation forces on 6 July 2018. He suffers from heart weakness and underwent open heart surgery several years ago.

In addition, Omran Hashem Ahmed al-Khatib, 60, from Gaza, has been on an open hunger strike for the past 9 days to demand his early release. He is held in Ashkelon prison and, after his hunger strike began, he was denied family visits and access to the “canteen” (prison store) for the next two months. Al-Khatib has lost 6 kilograms of weight. He has been imprisoned since 20 July 1997, sentenced to life imprisonment, a sentence later changed to 45 years, and is demanding his early release after 21 years in Israeli prison.

Photo: Anas Shadid

Earlier, Anas Shadid, 21, suspended his hunger strike on Thursday, 10 August, after reaching an agreement for his release; he will be freed on 19 December 2018. This is the second time Shadid has won his freedom from imprisonment without charge or trial with a long-term hunger strike.  Dirar Abu Manshar, 40, also suspended his own open hunger strike after 17 days, reaching an agreement for his release after four months from administrative detention without charge or trial.

Photo: Dirar Abu Manshar – Asra Media

Awad and Abu Aliya’s strikes come as part of the escalating protest by Palestinian political prisoners held without charge or trial under administrative detention. Administrative detainees are around 450 of the 6,000 total Palestinian political prisoners; they are held without charge or trial under indefinitely-renewable military orders on the basis of “secret evidence”. Palestinians can spend years at a time jailed under administrative detention.

Since February of this year, all administrative detainees have boycotted the Israeli military courts that confirm their detention orders, while a series of administrative detainees have launched hunger strikes. They are demanding the abolition of the policy which is frequently used to target Palestinian political leaders, community organizers and prominent activists. Among those jailed without charge or trial under administrative detention are Palestinian legislator, leftist and feminist Khalida Jarrar and French-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri.

Photo: Thaer Halahleh

Israeli military occupation authorities renewed the detention of Palestinian administrative detainee and former long-term hunger striker Thaer Halahleh for the fifth time. Halahleh, 35, from al-Khalil, has been jailed under his current detention since 27 April 2017. Overall, he has spent over 90 months in administrative detention through multiple arrests and 14 years total in Israeli jails. In 2012, he conducted a 22-day strike against his administrative detention.

Photo: Ismail Faraj, Ma’an News

Palestinian student Ismail Najib Faraj, 26, was also ordered to another four months in administrative detention. A student at Al-Ahliyya Palestine University in Bethlehem, he was seized by Israeli occupation forces from his home in the town of Doha on 23 April 2017. His detention was renewed for the fourth time on the basis of a “secret file” alleging that he is a “threat to the security of the area” and a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In addition, as the number of journalists seized by Israeli occupation forces has escalated, Palestinian journalist Mohammed Anwar Mona of Nablus was ordered to administrative detention for six months.  Mona is among tens of Palestinian journalists jailed without charge or trial.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the escalation of protests and actions in solidarity with the struggle to end administrative detention. Administrative detention is a colonial weapon used to separate effective leaders from the Palestinian people through arbitrary imprisonment without charge or trial. It is also a form of psychological torture for both prisoners and their families, denying them even the knowledge of when or if they will be released. We urge the immediate end of the practice of administrative detention and the release of all Palestinian prisoners. As the prisoners boycott the military courts, it is our responsibility to escalate boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns to isolate the Israeli state that confiscates Palestinian land, rights and freedom.