Palestinian Prisoners Hunger Strike, 2017
In 1974, The Palestinian National Council named the 17th of April, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Day. During this day Palestinian protests take place inside and outside the country in support of prisoners held in Israeli jails and protest their ill treatment in addition to demanding their release. Palestinian detainees suffer from constant raid and search operations, transferring prisoners from one section to the other or from one prison to another, administrative detention, denial of visitation rights, food is low in quality, books prohibition and education denial, torture, and medical negligence.
Administrative detention and denial of family visits are two of the most pressing issues, as some prisoners do not see their families for years. Israeli Prison Service’s policies provide that prisoners have the right to family visitations once every two weeks; however Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza are obligated to apply for permits to enter Israeli controlled areas which are often denied. Regarding administrative detention; it allows for Palestinians to be incarcerated without trial or charge. Detainees are under arrest for indefinite periods based on secret information which neither they nor their lawyers have access to. Administrative detention falls under the order 1651, allowing for the detention of any Palestinian for up to six months, which can be renewed indenitely. In Israeli controlled areas, Palestinians may be incarcerated under administrative detention according to the Emergency Powers (Detention) Law (1979).
On April 17th of this year, about 1500 Palestinian prisoners started an open-ended hunger strike. On April 18th, the Israeli Prison Service confiscated the belongings of all prisoners on hunger strike including clothes, electronic devices, and salt which is essential to prisoners on hunger strike as it raises the blood pressure, prevents their stomachs from rotting and helps keep them balanced. On April 25th, the Israeli Prison Service moved hunger-strikers to different sections of prisons, and leading public figures were put in solitary confinement. Palestinian leader Marwan Al-Barghouthi, Karim Yunis, and Mahmoud Abu Srour were moved from Hadarim prison to solitary confinement in Jalama prison. The prisoners’ hunger strike announcement was followed by an order from Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan to create a military hospital in order to guarantee hunger strikers will not be transferred to civilian hospitals, which have rejected force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike.
According to the Guardian, a statement was issued by Erdan stating that “The strike led by Barghouti is motivated by internal Palestinian politics and therefore includes unreasonable demands concerning the conditions in the prisons”. He added “I have instructed the prison service to act in any way to contain the strike within the walls of the prisons and Israeli police to prepare and provide any help needed to the prison service for any scenario that is likely to develop.”
Since June 1967, ISF carried out over 800,000 arrest operations of Palestinians. There are currently 6300 Palestinians distributed among 22 prisons in Israeli controlled areas under the Israeli Prison Service’s command, in addition to two other prisons in the West Bank which fall directly under ISF’s command. Israeli prisons hold 61 female prisoners, 14 of them are under 18, and there are 300 males under 18 years old. There are 13 members of the legislative council and 28 journalists. 500 Palestinian prisoners are under administrative detention, and 500 are sentenced to life sentences. In regards to the prisoners’ well being; 1800 prisoners suffer from illnesses, and 180 suffer from chronic diseases; 25 of them are suffering from cancer. Due to ill treatment and medical negligence, 210 have died in Israeli prisons since 1967.
Palestinian prisoners’ main demands;
- The improvement of their living conditions in prisons.
- he abolition of administrative detention.
- Allowing visits to all prisoners.
- Stop physical abuse and daily raid operations to cells.
- Medical attentiveness.
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