(WASHINGTON DC, 05/08/2017) – Today marks the 22nd day of a hunger strike waged by 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners, who are protesting Israel’s use of administrative detention, lack of access to medical care, lack of family visits and the use of isolation. The National Committee for the Support of the Prisoners Strike, a coalition of Palestinian NGOs, has called for global support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, a general strike and fasting campaigns to raise awareness.
Now in its fourth week, the situation is growing dire for those who are abstaining from food and drink. At this time, those hunger striking may be finding it difficult to stand as they become increasingly weak. In addition, they are facing threats of force feeding and other harsh tactics at the hands of the Israeli Prison Service and special units designed to get prisoners to end the strike, Addameer states.
Furthmore, Israeli authorities have banned most attorney visits so NGOs are unable to track the prisoners’ health, according to Addameer.
In a new order delivered on May 5 by the Israeli Health Ministry, physicians who refuse to force feed starving prisoners must find a replacement doctor who will carry out the inhumane treatment. Force feeding is considered tantamount to torture and is against international law, according to the World Medical Association.
The American Muslims for Palestine, a national education organization, fully stands with Palestinian prisoners and calls upon the international community and all people of conscience to demand an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands; and an end to arbitrary arrests and detentions, administrative detentions, isolation, torture and other treatment that violates numerous international laws.
The prisoner rights group, Addameer estimates Israel has imprisoned fully 40 percent of the Palestinian male population and since 1967 has incarcerated about 800,000 Palestinians. Children are not immune. Defense for Children International – Palestine reports that Israeli military authorities arrest and detain up to 700 children per year in the military court system and 8,000 children have been imprisoned since 2000.
Addameer reports in April 6,300 Palestinians are held as political prisoners. Of that number, 500 are being held without charge or trial in administrative detention; 300 are children; 61 are women; and 13 – including Marwan Barghouti – are Palestinian Legislative Council members.
The last massive Palestinian prisoner hunger strike took place in spring of 2012, when about 2,000 prisoners staged a long-standing hunger strike. In 2014, about 220 administrative detainees launched a hunger strike lasting 63 days to protest the illegal use of detention without charge or trial. The strike ended with Israeli prison authorities agreeing to ease restrictions on the prisoners and to continue dialogue about the use of administrative detention. The prisoners’ current demands include: family visits, proper medical care, end to Israel’s practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial in so-called administrative detention and stopping the use of isolation. We must support the Palestinians who are putting their bodies and lives on the line to protest the occupation and inhumane treatment in Israeli prisons.