Palestinian Political Prisoners Stage Mass Hunger Strike for Justice
by Stephen Lendman
Around 6,500 Palestinians are currently imprisoned for resisting Israeli viciousness – wanting to live free on their own land, in their own country, illegal occupation of their territory ended.
Israeli gulag prison conditions are among the world’s worst, Palestinians incarcerated for political reasons, brutally treated, denied fundamental rights, including respect for their religion and medical care for the seriously ill.
Hunger strikes periodically occur by individuals or numerous prisoners. What’s ongoing could become the largest ever collective action.
Over 1,600 Palestinians are mass hunger-striking – led by widely respected Marwan Barghouti, under the banner of “Freedom and Dignity” for prisoners.
According to Palestinian Prisoners Club director Qadura Fares, nearly 2,900 prisoners may join the action in the coming days and weeks, an open-ended action to continue for as long as it takes to get their grievances addressed and rectified.
Israeli Prison Service regulations consider hunger-striking an offense, subject to disciplinary action. A statement issued said “(p)risoners who decide to (hunger) strike will face serious consequences.”
“Strikes and protests are illegal activities and will face unwavering penalization. In accordance with the policy set by the minister of public security, the Prison Service does not negotiate with the prisoners.”
Prisoners demand humane treatment as required under international law. Netanyahu’s office issued a statement, summarizing their demands, stating:
“A mass hunger strike started today (April 17, Palestinian Prisoners Day) calling for basic needs and rights of prisoners in an attempt to put an end to the practice of arbitrary administrative detention, torture, ill-treatment, unfair trials, detention of children, medical negligence, solitary confinement, inhuman/degrading treatment, deprivation of basic rights such as family visits and the right to education.”
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi issued an impassioned statement, saying “we honor and pay great tribute to our prisoners for their courage, continued steadfastness, and commitment to independence and justice in the face of the belligerent military occupier.”
“Since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip began nearly 50 years ago, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel, and in the past two years alone, at least 13 discriminatory and racist laws have been enacted by the Israeli government that deliberately target Palestinian prisoners and are in direct violation of international law and conventions.”
“The entire global community should be alarmed by Israel’s willful breach and devaluation of the rights and lives of Palestinian political prisoners, especially in regards to the imprisonment and ill-treatment of Palestinian men, women, children, and the elderly.”
Hunger-striking for justice “represent the most selfless struggle for justice and freedom in Palestine, and expose the criminality of the continued military occupation. Their nonviolent actions should be acknowledged and embraced by all members of the international community.”
The Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association issued a statement, saying Palestinian prisoners began hunger-striking, contesting “Israel’s cruel policies.”
It noted “2017 marks 100 years of the Balfour declaration; 70 years of Palestinian Catastrophe (al-Nakba); 50 years of brutal military occupation.”
“This is also the year to hold the Israeli occupation accountable for its actions and to demand the immediate release of all Palestinian political prisoners!”
They include 57 women, 300 children, 13 Palestinian MPs, 500 uncharged and untried administrative detainees, 18 journalists, and 800 requiring treatment for illnesses and diseases.
Extremist Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan ordered the establishment of a military field hospital to assure hunger-striking prisoners aren’t transferred to civilian hospitals – refusing to force-feed them, a procedure amounting to torture.
Hardline Israeli Supreme Court justices ruled the procedure constitutional. Most Israeli doctors disagree, refusing to participate in practices considered medically unethical.
Joint (Arab) List MK Yousef Jarareen explained Palestinian prisoners held in Israel breach Fourth Geneva principles.
Imprisoning them for political reasons and brutalizing them in captivity show how Israeli viciousness operates.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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