Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Newark, Samidoun is taking the leading edge on the issue of Palestinian prisoners on their hunger strike inside Israeli jails. According to the group's website, On April 24, 2014, approximately 90 Palestinians held in Israeli jails launched a hunger strike. These Palestinians are held under administrative detention, a policy under which Palestinians may be held indefinitely without charge or trial. Some Palestinians have been held for years in administrative detention. More Palestinians have joined the strike each week - there are now over 200 prisoners on strike. Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. It is renewable every 6 month at the whim of the occupiers, a practice that was not even deployed during the Nazi era.
The hunger strikers are demanding an end to their confinement without charge or trial and an end to the use of administrative detention. They have now been on hunger strike for over 44 days, and their health is increasingly at risk. One hunger striker has had a heart attack; others have been transferred to hospitals. They are consuming only water and salt; they are putting their lives and their bodies on the line for freedom. Samidoun issued a worldwide alert calling on people of conscience that such practice is unfair, unjust and illegal. The group wants the rest of us to demand an end to the policy of administrative detention.
The hunger strike continues and thousands of prisoners are in grave danger! Israel chose to condemn the prisoners to death by totally ignoring their demands. The US government as well as many Western nations who remains silent in the face of the Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, are providing immunity and encouraging Israel with its repressive policy.
Based on information published by Addameer, a prisoner support group, in total more than 5,200 Palestinian prisoners are detained or imprisoned by Israel - 202 of whom are children, 25 are members of the Palestine National Council. This includes at least 20 Palestinian female prisoners and 320 "administrative detainees." Also detained is the Speaker of the Parliament, who is among the 5,200 Palestinians held captive in Israeli dungeons.
According to Palestinian prisoner solidarity sites, over 20,000 administrative detention orders were issued since 2000 by the Israeli occupation authority. On February 24, 2012, the 320 Palestinian administrative detainees held captive without charge or trial declared a boycott of Israeli military courts. This boycott started on March 1, 2013 in protest of these sham courts that are used by the Israeli occupation army and Israeli intelligence as a cover for illegal detention based on "secret" files and lack of indictment.
Palestinian people respect and hold in high regard their prisoners held by Israel for their contribution and sacrifices. As of yesterday, Palestinian presidential candidate, Haythem El-Khuzzi has joined in with the prisoners in their hunger strike in order to highlight their suffering. He sent a statement to the UN, and the Arab and Muslim organizations explaining his conviction, by declaring, the prisoners will not be freed by fancy speeches but rather with meaningful and substantives efforts.
After Palestinian authorities did away with the Prisoners' ministerial post in the new government, there is a desperate need to put the prisoners' issues on the front seat. The executive committee of all Palestinian communities across Europe will be meeting in Brussels, Belgium to lobby for Palestinian prisoners, according to a June 4th press release by the committee director, Dr. Falah Salha in Budapest.
Last spring this writer called Shireen Issawi, the sister of Samer Issawi, who was the longest hunger striker in the world history, to provide the prisoner's family with comfort and moral support. This young lady, a Jerusalemite lawyer, ended the conversation with inspiring steadfastness and dedication. She was not only the spokeswomen of her brother, but also an advocate for many of the prisoners. Shireen is now a political prisoner, held without charges, bail or due process. Miss Issawi who has been held since last April is now on a hunger strike also. Her family's house has been denied access to water by the municipality of Jerusalem as a form of punishment.
You do not need to be a Palestinian to be outraged by the Israeli blatant human rights violations. Readers living in the US can have their voices heard, by challenging the illegal detention and inhumane treatment of Palestinian prisoners, by expressing their concerns to the embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. Here is the Israeli Embassy's press office email address: [email protected] . Those living in different countries, can do the same by looking up the embassy of Israel's contact information in their respective countries, and demand Israel ends its unfair, unjust and illegal administrative detention act immediately.
Mahmoud El-Yousseph is a retired USAF veteran.