Poster of Ahmad Zahran at a support protest. Photo: Quds News

The Israeli occupation’s Ofer military court rejected the appeal of Palestinian prisoner Ahmad Zahran, on hunger strike for the 107th day against his imprisonment without charge or trial. The military court had repeatedly delayed in issuing the decision, despite Zahran’s weakening health. It earlier had requested that he end his hunger strike in order to be subjected to further interrogation, which Zahran refused. He has been jailed under administrative detention, Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial, since March 2019.

Due to the severity of his health condition, Zahran was also transferred to the civilian Kaplan hospital on Monday, 6 January. He has lost over 35 kilograms (77 pounds) of weight, is unable to walk and has pain throughout his body. Zahran, 42, from the village of Deir Abu Mishaal, launched a previous hunger strike for 39 days, which he suspended after a promise to not renew his detention. Instead, his detention was renewed in violation of the agreement, sparking him to launch the strike again. In the past, he has spent almost 15 years in Israeli prisons. Palestinian prisoners transferred to civil prisons are routinely shackled to their hospital beds and held under heavy military guard, despite their severely ill health.

Protesters in Gaza urge freedom for Zahran, 7 January. Photo: Hadf News

On the 90th day of his hunger strike, Israeli interrogators appeared at the Ramon prison clinic seeking to interrogate Zahran. Military prosecutors claimed a need to interrogate him in order to direct the military court to delay or refuse his appeal. He had not been subjected to interrogation at any time prior to or earlier during his strike, leading Due to his severe health state, the interrogation could not continue.

Zahran’s lawyers emphasized that they would continue the legal battle, while Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails launched further solidarity strikes to demand his freedom. In a statement, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society and the Palestinian Prisoners Study Center noted that Israeli intelligence agencies are working to thwart any agreement to end Zahran’s strke and secure his freedom. They said that the intelligence agencies have interfered to prevent an agreement between Zahran and the prison administration in an attempt to deny him a victory in the hunger strike.

Several Palestinian prisoners, including Jamil Ankoush, have been carrying out extended strikes in support of Zahran, while a group of prisoners in the Israeli occupation Gilboa prison began a one-day strike on Tuesday, 7 January. This is one of a series of rolling strikes called by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Israeli prisons. Nader Sadaqa, Ahmad Yassin, Majd Ba’ajawi, Ahmed Saleh, Badr al-Ruzza, Mahmoud Tayem, Khaled Kiblawi, Ahmad Issa, Baraa Abu Omar and Moataz al-Suruji joined in the collective solidarity action. The PFLP prison branch emphasized that these were initial steps and that the protests would be escalated if Zahran is not released.

Protesters in Gaza urge freedom for Zahran, 7 January. Photo: Hadf News

Wael Jaghoub, the leader of the PFLP’s branch in Israeli prisons, was ordered to isolation as the prisoners announced their collective steps of struggle. On 6 January, Jaghoub was barred by the Israeli occupation prison administration from receiving family visits for six months. When his family members arrived at the prison gate on Monday, they were told they could not see him and that the ban would be in place for six months.

After Jaghoub’s fellow prisoners in Hadarim were informed of the decision, they immediately began to protest. The family were then allowed to visit for 15 minutes only in a completely isolated room. After the visit was over, the family members’ permits to enter were taken from them. Palestinian prisoners are routinely denied family visits because they are imprisoned within ’48 Palestine and their family members from the West Bank or Gaza require special permits to allow their entry. Family members are repeatedly denied these permits on the grounds of spurious “security concerns.”

Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza, organized a demonstration to support Zahran’s strike and demand his freedom. Ahmad Barakat, speaking on behalf of the PFLP, called for international organizations and institutions, particularly the International Committee of the Red Cross, to intervene and stop the policy of administrative detention. There are approximately 450 Palestinians held in administrative detention, of around 5,000 total Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails. These detention orders, introduced to Palestine by the British colonial mandate and then adopted by the Zionist project, are issued for up to six months at a time but are indefinitely renewable on the basis of “secret evidence.” Palestinians may be jailed for years at a time due to indefinitely renewable detention orders.

Protesters in Gaza urge freedom for Zahran, 7 January. Photo: Hadf News

Barakat also urged Palestinians and supporters to participate in actions and demonstrations to support the prisoners, including upcoming mobilizations to free imprisoned PFLP General Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian prisoners, planned for 15 to 29 January.

A further demonstration in support of Zahran and his fellow prisoners has been called for Wednesday, 8 January at 3:00 pm at Manara Square in Ramallah, Palestine.

Zahran’s strike is also accompanied by escalating tensions in Israeli prisons overall. In Ramon prison, the Palestinian prisoners announced that they were dissolving organizational representation, a protest step indicating that they expect their demands to receive a serious reply. This comes in response to the repressive invasion and transfer in section 6 of the prison. 120 Palestinians jailed there were suddenly transferred to Nafha prison and denied the opportunity to bring their belongings or even their outer clothes, despite the cold weather.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reiterates 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.

Join the call to action: https://samidoun.net/2019/12/ahmad-zahran-heads-toward-100-days-of-hunger-strike-demand-his-freedom/