Seven Palestinian prisoners join strikes to end imprisonment without charge or trial

Seven Palestinian prisoners have joined the hunger strike against administrative detention as of Monday, 28 August, joining three prisoners who were already on strike in rejection of the Israeli policy of imprisonment without charge or trial. The Muhjat al-Quds Foundtion said that seven prisoners from a range of different political affiliations joined the open strike in order to escalate the prisoners’ struggle to bring the policy of administrative detention to an end.

The prisoners said that they had repeatedly exhausted avenues of negotiations or dialogue with the Israeli occupation intelligence and prison administration, only to be met with delays, procrastination and no real change. The prisoners who entered the strike were named as Jamal Jaber Hamamreh and Thaer Yousef Hamdan from the Islamic Jihad Movement, Yousef al-Lahham and Ahmad Khalayleh from the Hamas movement, Ismail Alayan and Mohammed Zaghari from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (referred to in an earlier announcement) and Mohammed al-Roumi from Fateh.

After the announcement, Ofer prison officials immediately transferred all seven to isolation in retaliation to their joining the hunger strike.

They joined ongoing strikes by fellow administrative detainees, Khaled Battat, 46, from al-Dhahriyeh, and Saddam Awad, 28, from Beit Ummar. Both have been on hunger strike since 12 August at the Negev desert prison; both are imprisoned without charge or trial in Israeli prison.

Also on hunger strike since 5 August is Omran al-Khatib, 60, from Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza. He has spent 21 years in prison, jailed since July 1997. His health has deteriorated significantly and he suffers from high blood pressure, cholesterol and other problems; since he launched his strike, he has been held in isolation and banned from family visits.

Palestinian prisoners are collectively demanding the end of the Israeli policy of administrative detention. First introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate, administrative detention orders can be issued for up to six months at a time without charge or trial on the basis of so-called “secret evidence.” These detention orders are indefinitely renewable and Palestinians have spent years at a time jailed without charge or trial under these repeatedly renewed orders.

Since 15 February, all administrative detainees have boycotted the military courts that issue and verify administrative detention orders. They are refusing to give even the appearance of legitimacy to the fig leaf of “legality” that the military courts may provide. These hunger strikes mark another step in their campaign for justice. There are approximately 450 Palestinians held without charge or trial under administrative detention, out of around 6,000 total Palestinian prisoners.

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.