As Palestinian prisoner Fidaa Damas launched her open hunger strike, the number of Palestinian prisoners continuing their hunger strike against Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial reached seven: Jafar Ezzedine, Ihsan Othman, Ahmad Zahran, Mohammed Abu Aker, Mustafa al-Hassanat, Huzaifa Halabiya Bader and Fidaa Damas. Damas, 25 and a student at Al-Quds Open University, is currently the only Palestinian female prisoner held in administrative detention of approximately 50 Palestinian women prisoners. From Beit Ummar near al-Khalil, she has been jailed since May 2018.
Jafar Ezzedine, 48, has been on hunger strike since 16 June, when he was scheduled to be released from a five-month sentence in Israeli prison. Instead of returning to his waiting family in Jenin, he was instead ordered to three months in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Ezzedine is a veteran of administrative detention and has carried out four previous hunger strikes in the past against his imprisonment on the basis of secret evidence. Reports indicate that his health is deteriorating and he is experiencing serious pain. In retaliation for his protest, he has been thrown into solitary confinement and bared from family visits or the “canteen” (prison store.) He has also reported frequent night invasions by guards searching his room, depriving him of sleep.
Ihsan Othman, 21, a student at al-Quds University, has also been on hunger strike since 16 June. He was transferred to a hospital after the deterioration of his own health; he has been on hunger strike against his imprisonment without charge or trial. He has been jailed since 12 September 2018; when held in administrative detention in the past, he participated in the Karameh hunger strike of 2017.
Ahmad Zahran, 42, of Deir Abu Mashal near Ramallah has been on hunger strike since 20 June, protesting his administrative detention. He was previously imprisoned for 15 years in Israeli jails. His strike prompted his comrades also held in administrative detention, Mohammed Abu Aker, 24, Mustafa Hassanat, 21, and Huzaifa Halabiya, 28, to launch their own hunger strike on 1 July. All three were transferred on Sunday, 7 July from the Negev desert prison to solitary confinement in retaliation for their hunger strike. Their mattresses are confiscated every day from 6 am to 7 pm in order to prevent them from resting, despite the fact that they are experiencing extreme fatigue as a result of the strike.
Abu Aker and Hassanat are both from Dheisheh refugee camp, where they are leading activists and community organizers. Halabiya is from Abu Dis, Jerusalem; he suffers from serious health problems as he was injured as a child, has burns over a significant percentage of his body and recently battled leukemia.
Five more prisoners suspended their strikes after receiving an agreement to end their administrative detention after 12 days without food: the five prisoners from Dura, near al-Khalil were brothers Mahmoud and Kayed al-Fasfous, Said al-Nammoura, Abdel-Aziz al-Suweiti and Ghandafar Abu Atwan.
Administrative detainees are discussing escalating protest steps to campaign against the ongoing policy of imprisonment without charge or trial. There are currently approximately 500 Palestinians jailed under administrative detention orders. Issued for one to six months at a time on the basis of secret evidence, these orders are indefinitely renewable. Palestinians regularly spend years at a time jailed under administrative detention.
The Prison Branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued a second statement, highlighting the growing calls for action:
“First, this week, other prisoners with administrative detention orders, including some transferred to administrative detention after the expiration of the unjust sentences imposed on them by the military occupation courts, will be joining the strike.
Second, we warn the prison administration and the occupation intelligence from their continued violations of the rights of hunger striking prisoners.
Third, we urge the masses of our people and the forces of the resistance to take action in support of the hunger striking prisoners through events, popular support and wide activities. In this role, we support the leading role of the committees to support the prisoners in Gaza for their many activities organized in support of the strikers. This is one of the most important pillars supporting the prisoners’ struggle and putting pressure on the levers of struggle for the prisoners and the hunger strikers in particular. We also appreciate the call of the national and Islamic forces in Ramallah to participate in actions on Tuesday in a national popular action to support the prisoners and reject all attempts to harm the Palestinian national liberation cause.
Fourth, we call on all movements in the national liberation struggle to develop their programs to support the administrative detainees and raise this issue in all levels and venues.
Fifth, we renew our call for former prisoners and administrative detainees, especially those who have previously engaged in hunger strikes, to participate in a day of support including a one-day hunger strike….
This united battle will widen and escalate and requires all support and solidarity to strengthen the prisoners who are engaged in this confrontation to enable them to achieve their goals.”
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges all to stand with these courageous prisoners who have put their lives on the line to seek freedom and an end to the unjust system of administrative detention. International solidarity can help them win their struggles, so all of our participation, protests, petitions and phone calls can play a role in helping them to seize victory for justice and freedom.