Palestinian prisoner Ahmad Zahran is on his 98th day of hunger strike against his administrative detention, Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial. Zahran, 42, from the Palestinian village of Deir Abu Mishaal, launched his hunger strike after a new four-month administrative detention order was issued against him despite winning an agreement for his release in an earlier 39-day hunger strike.
A father of four children, Zahran has spent 15 years in Israeli prisons in multiple past periods of detention. Over his lengthy hunger strike, he is facing a worsening health crisis. He has lost over 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of weight and was transferred to the Ramleh prison clinic as his health further deteriorated.
On 22 December, interrogators from the notorious Al-Moskobiyeh interrogation center in occupied Jerusalem came to the Ramleh prison clinic to interrogate Zahran, apparently in an attempt to intimidate or coerce him into breaking his strike or providing a false confession against himself or others. His legal appeals to end his detention have been repeatedly postponed.
“I anxiously await each and every morning to hear that my son is still breathing to bring me back to life, said Raseela Zahran, 70, Ahmad’s mother, in a call for support for her son from Palestinian, Arab and international supporters of justice.”Ahmad’s health has deteriorated and I appeal for everyone to ensure the release of my son from the grip of the [Israeli] occupation. How much more can this body handle after two hunger strikes that together lasted for 120 days; My son’s body is weakening but his will remains strong.”
On Saturday, 28 December, fellow Palestinian prisoner Jamil Saleh Ankoush announced that he was launching a hunger strike in solidarity with Zahran until he achieves victory and brings an end to his administrative detention without charge or trial.
Zahran’s lawyers with the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society reported that Zahran has been repeatedly denied family visits and that even his lawyers have had their meetings with him repeatedly delayed, denied or rescheduled. In an attempt to break his strike, he was transferred repeatedly from one prison to another (using the harsh “bosta” system) and held in solitary confinement.
On his 68th day of hunger strike, Addameer lawyer Mona Naddaf reported that Zahran was already vomiting blood and was unable to stand. Despite his obviously severe health condition, he was forced to leave his bed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. During 15 days in the Negev desert prison, he was allowed to shower only once.
On 23 December, large crowds of Palestinians joined a march in Gaza City to support Ahmad Zahran and his fellow Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the march noted the escalating attacks on Palestinian prisoners, including the targeting of the Palestinian left as Israeli intelligence agencies announced “the arrest of 50 members of the PFLP” in a media campaign against imprisoned Palestinian strugglers, including torture victim Samer Arbeed and feminist parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar.
A statement by the Prison Branch of the PFLP was presented at the Gaza march, saluting Zahran and saying that “The prisoner Ahmad Zahran is a paradigmatic example of the struggling, resisting intellectual confronting the occupier. We stand with the prisoner Zahran, who was yesterday subjected to harsh interrogation and faced down the occupier, refusing to break his strike. He continues to resist and uphold his demands to end his arbitrary administrative detention.”
Administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable and can be issued for up to six months at a time. Palestinians have spent years in Israeli prison under these orders. Currently, around 450 of over 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners are detained under administrative detention orders, initially introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate and then adopted by the Zionist state. Israel’s practice of administrative detention, which is used systematically to imprison Palestinians without charge or trial, comes in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is also a form of psychological torture for the detainees and their families: They never know when and how they may be released, if ever.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network emphasizes our full and unconditional solidarity with Ahmad Zahran and all Palestinian prisoners struggling for freedom. We urge all supporters of justice around the world to take a stand with Ahmad Zahran, whose life is on the line as he struggles to bring an end to administrative detention. International solidarity can be important to show Palestinian prisoners like Ahmad Zahran that they are not forgotten and to put pressure on the Israeli state – and the governments that support it – to support Zahran in achieving victory for justice and freedom.
1) Organize or join an event or protest for the Palestinian prisoners. You can organize an info table, rally, solidarity hunger strike, protest or action to support the prisoners. Join the actions to Free Ahmad Sa’adat and support the Great Return March. If you are already holding an event about Palestine or social justice, include solidarity with the prisoners as part of your action. Send your events and reports to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) Write letters and make phone calls to protest the violation of Palestinian prisoners’ rights. Demand your government take action to stop supporting Israeli occupation or to pressure the Israeli state to end the policies of repression of Palestinian political prisoners. In particular, demand that your political officials put pressure on Israel to end the policy of administrative detention, the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial.
Call during your country’s regular office hours:
• Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne: + 61 2 6277 7500
• Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland: +1-613-992-5234
• European Union Commissioner Josep Borrell Fontelles: +32(0) 470 18 24 05
• New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters: +64 4 439 8000
• United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab: +44 20 7008 1500
• United States President Donald Trump: 1-202-456-1111
3) Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Join the BDS campaign 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. Learn more about the BDS campaign at bdsmovement.net.