Palestinian prisoner leaders launch hunger strike: Battle of Freedom or Martyrdom to begin Thursday, 23 March

Building on over 36 days of escalating protests, the leadership of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement announced today, Tuesday 21 March, that they would begin the collective hunger strike today with up to 2,000 prisoners and more to come following on Thursday and the days to come. They are demanding not only an end to the attacks by the Ben Gvir, Smotrich and Netanyahu fascist regime on the prisoners, but their freedom.

The Higher Emergency Committee of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement declared in its statement, “We have decided to embark on our open hunger strike, ‘the Volcano of Freedom or Martyrdom’ to shout our hunger and steadfastness to the world with one, sole voice: Freedom, freedom, freedom!”

The Emergency committee stated that the leadership of the prisoners’ movement would begin the strike today, represented by the Committee members, which represents the broad spectrum of Palestinian politics. The members of the Committee who launched their strike today are:

1. Ammar Mardi, representative of Fateh (Palestinian National Liberation Movement)

2. Salameh al-Qatawi, representative of Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement)

3. Ziad Bseiso, representative of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine

4. Walid Hanatsheh, representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

5. Wajdi Joudeh, representative of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine

6. Bassam Khandaqji, representative of the Palestinian People’s Party.

These six representatives are joined in launching the strike by Mohammed al-Tus, the longest-held Palestinian prisoner jailed since 1985.

“Over 2,000 Palestinian prisoners will launch the strike beginnng on the first day of the month of Ramadan,” Thursday, 23 March. Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan is already on his 45th day of hunger strike, which he launched at the moment of his arrest.

A series of Palestinian leaders from across political movements declared that they will participate in the hunger strike in its front ranks, including: Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the PFLP, joined by Kamil Abu Hanish, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh and Munther Mufleh; Bassam al-Saadi of Islamic Jihad, joined by Sameh al-Shobaki, Tamim Salem, Ali al-Saadi, Hamza al-Hajj Mohammed, Muhannad Abu Aisha, Arafat al-Zeer, Abd Obaid, Wajih Abu Khalil, Muhannad al-Sheikh Ibrahim, and Bassam Abu Akar; leaders of Fateh, including Zakaria Zubaidi, one of the heroes of the Freedom Tunnel, Marwan Barghouthi, and Nasser Abu Srour, Mahmoud Abu Srour, Jumaa Adam, Mahmoud Abu Kharabish, and Nael Abu al-Assal; and leaders of Hamas, including Hassan Salameh, Ibrahim Hamed, Abbas al-Sayed, Mahmoud Issa, Jamal Abu al-Hija and Mohammed Arman. Nael Barghouthi, the veteran Palestinian prisoner held for the longest time in total following his re-arrest after release in the Wafa’a al-Ahrar prisoner exchange, was also announced as a leader of the strike.

The occupation prison administration has already threatened to impose heavy penalties on the striking prisoners, even as the prisoners affirmed that they will continue their battle with determination.

Take action!

The prisoners’ own calls have made clear that they are calling on the Palestinian people and all friends and supporters of Palestine to take action to stand with them as they put their bodies and lives on the line to struggle for freedom. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges all to join in taking action to stand up with the Palestinian prisoners as they rise up and resist for freedom. 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. Join with Samidoun Deutschland’s action in Berlin — and keep organizing on 22-23 March and beyond. 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. Direct actions like those taken by Palestine Action have already shut down multiple weapons facilities in Britain owned by Israeli arms companies, and even more action can provide further direct support to the Palestinian people.

2. Take a stand against “twinning” with Israeli occupation cities – Recently, the city of Barcelona took a strong stand against the normalization of occupation after years of campaign work by thousands of residents of the city, as all collaboration with the Israeli occupation and the “sister city” relationship with Tel Aviv were suspended by the Mayor. This important victory comes as the Collectif Palestine Vaincra is leading a campaign in Toulouse, France, to bring an end to that city’s “sister city” relationship with the apartheid capital. If your city has a twinning relationship with the occupation, launch your own campaign to bring that arm of complicity to an end!

3. 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.