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Now Over 2,000 Palestinian Hunger Strikers in Israeli Prisons

Protesters against indefinite detention without charge, movement grows

Common Dreams staff

An estimated 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners are currently on open-ended hunger strike. (Mahfouz Abu Turk / APA images)

The Number of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons has grown to over 2,000 this week as prisoners protest against the use of indefinite detention without charge, known as 'administrative detention', and ill-treatment. More than 300 Palestinians are being held without charge or trial.

Israeli authorities have been punishing those on strike though solitary confinement, the confiscation of personal belongings, transfers and denial of family visits. Now, seven prisoners have been transferred to a prison medical center due to health conditions caused by the strike.

According to rights groups in the West Bank, more prisoners are preparing to join the protest next week.

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The Guardian/UK: More Palestinian prisoners join hunger strike

Seven prisoners have been transferred to a prison medical centre, including Tha'er Halahleh, 34, and Bilal Diab, 27, who by Thursday had been on hunger strike for 58 days. Their appeals against imprisonment without charge – known as administrative detention – were dismissed by a military court earlier this week.

The men's condition is rapidly deteriorating, according to Addameer, a prisoners' rights group. It expressed "grave concern that these hunger strikers are not receiving adequate healthcare … and that independent doctors are still being denied visits to them".

Administrative detention is one of the main issues behind the protest. More than 300 Palestinians – a 50% increase since last year – are being held without charge, trial or even being informed of accusations or evidence against them. Their term of imprisonment is determined by an Israeli military judge. Halahleh has been held for 22 months; Diab since last August. [...]

Meanwhile, the leader of a West Bank village protest movement was released on bail this week after more than a year in prison before the verdict in his military trial on 13 May. Bassem Tamimi, who has been recognised by the European Union as a "human rights defender", is accused of incitement and organising illegal demonstrations. He has previously spent around three years in administrative detention.

Palestinians had a duty to resist the Israeli occupation through popular peaceful protest, he told the Guardian after his release. "They have military superiority, but we have moral superiority," he said.

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The Electronic Intifada: Mass hunger strike grows despite Israel’s best efforts to repress it

The Palestinian human rights and prisoner advocacy group Addameer announced today that the mass, open-ended hunger strike in Israeli prisons which began on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, has now grown to an estimated 2,000 participants. Addameer renews its calls for action in support of the hunger striking prisoners.

Palestinian prisoners are protesting Israel’s practice of administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — as well as solitary confinement, the denial of family visits and access to education, and other punitive measures of Israel’s system of arrest and detention which is designed to break the Palestinian struggle for freedom and liberation. [...]

The growth of the open-ended hunger strike is despite the Israeli authorities’ punishment of hunger strikers. According to Addameer, “Methods of punishment currently being employed against hunger striking prisoners include attacks on prisoners’ sections; confiscation of personal belongings; transfers from one prison to another; placement in solitary confinement; fines; and denial of family and lawyer visits.” The Israeli authorities are also reported to be confiscating salts for hunger strikers’ water — the only nourishment they are consuming.

Addameer reports today that hunger strikers include the 19 prisoners who have already been held in solitary confinement, including PFLP leader Ahmad Saadat, who has been held under lockdown for more than three years. According to Addameer, Saadat has already lost 6kg, or approximately 13 pounds.

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