Vicious repression and burning resistance: Palestinian prisoners’ uprising confronts escalating attacks

There is a high state of tension and escalating action within the occupation prisons, as the Palestinian prisoners’ movement is rising up to confront attacks by repressive Israeli occupation forces. In the past several days — particularly since the Jenin massacre and the Palestinian resistance operation in Jerusalem that came in response — occupation forces have stormed sections in various prisons, initiated mass arbitrary transfers from one prison to another, blocked family visits and isolated dozens of Palestinian political prisoners. Today, 31 January, this attack intensified with a violent raid on Palestinian women prisoners in Damon prison, sparking further outrage. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network calls upon all friends and supporters of Palestine to stand with the Palestinian prisoners, the Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian people in confronting this onslaught.

Palestinian women prisoners under attack

Occupation forces invaded the women prisoners’ sections in Damon prison, confiscating all of their possessions and isolating Palestinian prisoner Yasmine Shaaban. In response, the prisoners resisted the invasion, including burning items inside the prison cells. These attacks came days after occupation forces had stormed room #10, removing all electrical appliances, and imposing sanctions on the women imprisoned there. The Damon prison administration then cancelled all family visits and legal visits with the prisoners for Wednesday, 1 February, highlighting the intent of the occupation both to deprive the women prisoners of access to the outside world and to cover up its ongoing crimes.

Isolated prisoner Yasmine Shaaban

Prisoners escalate their resistance

Throughout the occupation prisons, the Palestinian prisoners’ movement escalated its measures of protest and confrontation in response, including closing the sections in all prisons and refusing to stand up or come out for security checks.

In the Naqab desert prison, 120 prisoners declared an open hunger strike for the second day in Sections 26 and 27 in protest of being held in collective isolation. This action is being taken as a “warning message to the occupation to stop its continuous attacks against prisoners,” said Riyad al-Ashqar of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies. They suspended the strike and noted that they are moving to another escalatory step, dissolving the prison organizations and representative structures, declaring that the occupation will have to deal with each Palestinian prisoner rather than existing representatives after a series of meetings with prison administration deteriorated.

Escalating attacks throughout occupation prisons

Occupation forces confiscated electrical appliances and basic necessities, cutting off electricity, hot water and blocking the entry of food purchased in the “canteen” (prison store). Palestinian prisoners secured the right to produce their own food through lengthy struggles, including collective hunger strike.

Repressive units invaded prison sections, ransacking belongings and confiscating prisoners’ items, in the Ofer, Naqab, Megiddo and Damon prisons, and moving dozens into collective isolation. They stormed Section 8 in the Negev Prison and transferred a number of prisoners from Jenin to Nafha Prison, and then attackedSection 9 of Megiddo Prison, and transferred 18 prisoners to isolation cells from Section 22 of Ofer Prison. The Higher Emergency Committee of the Prisoners’ Movement has been in a permanent session for two weeks in preparation for the ongoing uprising taking place inside the prisons.

Ben-Gvir’s assault on the prisoners’ movement

The notoriously fascist Zionist official, Itamar Ben-Gvir, was named Minister of Internal Security in the current Israeli government, placing him over the Israel Prison Service. Like his predecesors — including Gilad Erdan, current U.S./UN ambassador for the Zionist regime — Ben-Gvir immediately announced his plans to make the conditions for Palestinian prisoners even worse in an attempt to suppress the prisoners’ movement. He explicitly announced plans for large-scale transfers of Palestinian prisoners and attempts to smash the ongoing self-organization and mobilization of the prisoners by separating them further from one another.

Raafat Hamdouna, a former Palestinian prisoner and an expert on prisoners’ affairs, said in an interview with Palestine Today that “The coming days will include many measures taken by the heroic prisoners in the occupation prisons…including, hunger strikes, return of meals and dissolution of organizations.” He urged widespread support for the prisoner’ actions, emphasizing that the prisoners need Palestinian, Arab and international support as they confront the attacks of the occupier, urging protests in European capitals in particular and the isolation of the occupation regime on an international level.

Call to action and organizing

Palestinian political parties and resistance organizations across the board affirmed the necessity of standing with the prisoners as they rise up to confront the vicious attacks of the occupation. The Palestinian prisoners are on the front lines of struggle, leaders of the Palestinian resistance, confronting the occupier on a daily basis with their steadfastness, their organizing, and their very lives.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges all friends and supporters of Palestine and the Palestinian and Arab people everywhere to take action to stand with the Palestinian prisoners as they confront these occupation crimes with their bodies and lives on the line behind bars. We urge all to join in the Days of Rage and Resistance from 10-12 February 2023 with protests, mobilizations and direct actions. The prisoners are doing everything they can to confront the occupation attacks — now is the time to show that they are not isolated, and that we stand with these imprisoned strugglers and leaders as they resist a vicious onslaught of repression. 

1. Mobilize actions, demonstrations, direct actions and creative interventions – Take to the streets to defend the Palestinian people and their resistance! Organize actions on the Days of Rage and Resistance from 10-12 February 2023 in your city and community — and before! There is a vast depth of support for the Palestinian people everywhere around the world, including inside the imperialist powers. It is our responsibility to act and make it impossible to continue their support for the crimes against the Palestinian people.

2. Build the boycott of Israel – This is a critical moment to escalate the campaign to isolate the Israeli regime at all levels, including through boycott campaigns that target the occupation’s economic exploitation of the Palestinian land, people and resources as well as those international corporations, like HP and G4S, that profit from the ongoing colonization of Palestine.