On Thursday, 7 September, Palestinian detainee Abdel-Rahman Baraqa suspended his hunger strike against administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, after 26 days. Baraqa, 24, from Aqabat Jaber refugee camp, has been detained without charge or trial since 30 April 2023. In his hunger strike, he has experienced severe deterioration of his health while fighting back against a massively expanding system of arbitrary detention.
Maher al-Akhras, Kayed Fasfous and Sultan Khallouf are all continuing their hunger strikes, for 35 days for Fasfous and Khallouf and 15 days for al-Akhras. All three have previously won their liberation through hunger strikes: Fasfous’ 131-day strike, Khallouf’s 67-day strike, and al-Akhras’ 103-day strike all won their release from administrative detention.
Khallouf, who is held in the infamous Ramle prison clinic, sent a letter to Muhja al-Quds about his condition, noting that he must use a wheelchair to move and suffers from chest pains, shortness of breath, severe bone and muscle pain, blurred vision and difficulty speaing. He reported that Zionist intelligence officers had come to him and attempted to coerce him to end his strike. He has been on hunger strike since he was first seized from his home on 3 August 2023.
Administrative detention orders are issued for up to six months at a time and are indefinitely renewable, with Palestinians routinely jailed for years at a time under these orders. There are currently over 1,200 administrative detainees out of 5,100 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, more than double last year’s number and the largest amount in 20 years.
The escalation of administrative detention is only one of a series of attacks on the Palestinian prisoners, many of them targeting rights that were gained only through years of sacrifice and struggle of the prisoners’ movement, including through mass collective hunger strikes.
The most recent attack came from the notorious Zionist far right and openly fascist Minister of Public Security Itamar Ben Gvir, who announced on Friday, 1 September that family visits for Palestinian prisoners would be cut to once every two months, from biweely visits. It is worth noting that Palestinian prisoners are already routinely denied visits, both from restrictions imposed upon the prisoners directly and through the frequent denial of permits to prisoners’ relatives on the basis that they pose a “security risk.” Because most Palestinian prisoners are held inside occupied Palestine ’48 (in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention), their relatives must obtain a special permit in order to visit them, which is often and in fact routinely denied.
Ben Gvir’s announcement sparked widespread condemnation from Palestinian movements as well as international human rights organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, which organizes the buses taking family members to their visits. However, it also exposed once again the severe contradictions within the Zionist regime, as even far-right prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu contradicted Ben-Gvir, stating that no such decision would be made without reviewing the “security effects” — that is, the response of the Palestinian resistance — and various security officials, including the director of the prison administration and intelligence officials, reportedly expressed opposition to the plan. Once again, the crisis of the Zionist project has been highlighted, and the Palestinian prisoners’ movement has made clear its intention to resist these attacks.
The prisoners’ movement, which has already defeated several previous performative announcements from Ben Gvir, announced an open hunger strike beginning on Thursday, 14 September, in rejection of these attacks, in a statement issued by the Higher Emergency Committee of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement on 3 September:
In the name of God, the most gracious the most merciful,
To our great people, and to the free people of the world, greetings of challenge and steadfastness.
In continuation of the policy of aggression against everything Palestinian, in all aspects, the desecration of all that is sacred to us, the prisoners and Al-Quds, this ignorant extremist Ben Gvir has issued us a new decision that violates our most precious sanctities as prisoners, by reducing our family visits to once every two months. He thinks that we will surrender or tire of confronting his aggression and arrogance.
After tampering with our bread and water, today our mothers, wives, and children are targeted. In light of all this, we must take a stand, and we must take actions that match the magnitude of the aggression. Based on the above, we affirm the following:
First: Our rights, which we have obtained through our blood, and tons of our flesh, through the hunger strikes we have waged, we have not obtained as a favor to us or through a commitment to international laws and regulations [by the occupation]. Therefore, they are not subject to negotiation or surrender.
Second: The Higher National Emergency Committee of the Palestinians Prisoners’ Movement has decided to start an open hunger strike on Thursday, 14 September 2023, demanding the cancellation of all decisions and policies aimed at tightening the noose around us and our living conditions, as well as the restoration of all our rights that have been confiscated during the past period.
Third: Disagreement has arisen among our enemies regarding this decision, not as an acknowledgment of our rights or acceptance of our achievements on their part, but instead disagreement over the timing and mechanism of its implementation. This requires us, the prisoners, and our people not to be deceived by what their media presents. It requires us to stand against this aggression and to be prepared and ready for a real confrontation with our enemy.
Fourth: We will make the current month of September a unifying theme and a comprehensive month for our two holiest causes: Al-Aqsa, for which our people rose up 23 years ago, and the prisoners, who will rise up with our people this year until the freedom of our prisoners and our Aqsa is achieved.
Fifth: The unity embodied by the Prisoners’ Movement during the past two years has been the guarantee – with the help of God – to repel aggression against us, and we strive to further consolidate this unity each day. We hope that it will extend to all arenas of Palestinian action and that it will be manifested through the support of our people in this battle.
In conclusion: Our battle with this occupier is an ongoing battle. We can hardly close one chapter before opening another. Readiness and alertness are our constant choice as long as the occupation exists on our land and on our bodies.
Glory to the martyrs, healing to the wounded, freedom to the prisoners.
Higher National Emergency Committee of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges all supporters of Palestine to take action to support the Palestinian prisoners’ movement as the collective hunger striek approaches, as well as the current Palestinian hunger strikers and all Palestinian prisoners struggling for freedom, for their own lives and for the Palestinian people. With over 1200 Palestinians jailed without charge or trial — over 20% of all Palestinian prisoners — the struggle to bring down administrative detention is more urgent than ever. The Palestinian prisoners are fighting back against new attacks — and also fighting, in the broad view, for their liberation and the liberation of the Palestinian people. Take these actions below to stand with the prisoners’ movement, the hunger strikers and the struggle for liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea!
Download these signs for use in your campaigns:
- Poster/Sign: End Administrative Detention
- Poster/Sign: Free Hunger Strikers and All Prisoners
- Poster/Sign – End Administrative Detention (with Palestinian Flag)
Protest at the Israeli Embassy or Consulate in Your Country!
Join the many protests taking place around the world — confront, isolate and besiege the Israeli embassy or consulate in your city or country of residence. Make it clear that the people are with Palestine! Send us your events at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take to the streets: Organize a protest in solidarity with Palestine!
Take to the streets and join actions for justice! Organize your own if there is none in your area, and send us your events at email@example.com.
The international, Arab and Palestinian campaign to boycott Israel can play an important role at this critical time. Local boycott groups can protest and label Israeli produce and groceries, while many complicit corporations – including HP, G4S, Puma, Teva and others, profit from their role in support Zionist colonialism throughout occupied Palestine. By participating in the boycott of Israel, you can directly help to throw a wrench in the economy of settler colonialism.
Demand Your Government Sanction Israel!
The racist, settler colonial state of Israel and its war crimes against the Palestinian people are enabled and backed extensively by the over $3.8 billion each year given to Israel by the United States — targeted directly to support the Israeli occupation military killing children, women, men and elders throughout occupied Palestine. From Canada to Australia to the European Union, Western governments and imperialist powers provide ongoing diplomatic, political and economic support to Israel as well as selling billions of dollars of weaponry to the settler-colonial state. Meanwhile, they also purchase billions of dollars in weaponry from the Israeli state. Governments in league with imperialist powers, such as in the Philippines, Brazil, India and elsewhere, also buy weapons and “security” services — all “battle-tested” on the Palestinian population. Call your representatives, MPs, political officials and demand your government sanction Israel now, cut off all aid, expel its ambassadors, and stop buying and selling weapons!