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1,800 Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israeli Occupation Government Prisons on Hunger Strike for Freedom and Dignity

By Mahmoud El-Yousseph

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, May 9, 2017 

Celtic fans for Palestine, Irish support for the Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons, May 2017  

Nearly 1784 Palestinian prisoners have gone on a hunger strike to protest their condition in Israeli jails. There are currently approximately 6,300 Palestinians prisoners in Israel's prisons. Over 320 of them are youth and children. 600 of them are held under Administrative Detention Act. Which means they are in prison without charge, trial, or release date. 
Among the prisoners, there are 330 of prisoners are from Gaza, 680 from Jerusalem,and the occupied Palestine since 1948, 6,000 from the occupied West Bank, and 34 prisoners from various Arab countries. In addition, Israel continues to hold the remains of 261 Palestinians killed in the line of duty and/or during midnight raids or at checkpoints for no reasons. Thus denying their families of providing proper burial and paying their respects.
I personally know the pain, the agony and the fear of unknown the prisoners families and loved ones are going through. In the past Israel held my father for 18 months in 1948 after he crossed the border from Lebanon to look after his mother and his older brother. During the 1982 Israeli invasion into Lebanon, Israel did the same thing to my younger brother who was visiting our mother and our older brother from Germany with his German wife and their 5 year old daughter. My brother was also held for 18 months
To highlight the plight of the prisoners , On April 17th,  Marwan Barghouti, a Political Palestinian leader and one of the prisoners who have been in prison for 15 years called for the hunger strike for freedom and dignity after he had an OpEd piece published in the New York Time the day before. The Israeli reaction to the strike was to move the prisoner leaders to different prisons and into solitary confinement. The Israel army and Jewish settlers held BBQ parties in front of several prisons in retaliation and Israeli Interior minister said, Israel will not negotiate with the prisoners even if they all die.
Arab American Institute president Dr. Jim Zogby wrote an article on April 24 in which he highlights the Israeli arrogance towards the Palestinian hunger strike and to Barghouti's OpED in the Times. He stated, " The Israeli government's response to Barghouti's NY Time's article and to the strike itself, have been revealingly characteristic of their modus operandi. Because the Times initially described Barghouti as a Member of the Palestinian Parliament and a leader, Israel launched a campaign forcing the editors to change their description to note that Barghouti had been convicted of murder and membership in a terrorist organization."
Dr.Zogby who was the head of ADC (Arab American Anti-Dicrimination Committee) in the 1980s have helped in lobbying for the release of 7000 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners, among them my younger brother, Samih who were held by Israel at Ansar prison during the 1982 Israeli invasion into Lebanon.
Dr. Zoby added, the current Israeli reaction to the Times article, " What Israel did not mention was the fact that Barghouti's arrest, trial, and conviction were denounced by the Swiss-based Inter-Parliamentary Union as being "a violation of international law" and having "failed to meet fair-trial standards". The IPU concluded that "Barghouti's guilt has not been established".

Israel who was the first nation to introduce terrorism into the Middle East had the audacity to call the op-ed "journalist terrorism"; accused the Times of "media terrorism"; called Barghouti's piece "fake news" that was "full of lies". Former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, called for an investigation to see who at the Times was responsible for getting and publishing the article. One Knesset Member went so far as to suggest that Israel might close the Times' Israel bureau. Obviously, whenever ISISrael does not get its way, it resorts to threat and black mail. Someone at the Times should have told the Israelis officials to catch a hike.
Paletinian Prisoner Solidarity Netwark, Samidioun is taking the leading edge on the issue of Palestinian prisoners on their hunger strike inisde Israeli jails. According to Samidoutn, the total number of prisoners who are on hunger strike is 1784 which include women too. They come are from all Palestinian factions.
What are the hunger strikers demand? The prisoners are demanding basic human rights, including an end to the denial of family visits, the right to access higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. They have faced harsh repression, including solitary confinement, denial of legal and family visits and confiscation of personal belongings, including the salt that the strikers use to sustain themselves along with water. I should not here that according to Samidoun, there are 1000 Palestinian prisoners who are not allowed to receive family visits for security reason.
Here are more general information about the prisoners. There are 58 female prisoners (15 of them under age, 2 under held under ADA, 13 injured, and only 30 of them are sentenced.)
There are 320 children prisoners (3 are held under ADA, 270 are sentenced and 47 are held without charges or trial date)
1200 prisoners were intentionally killed in prison since 1967, 72 prisoners died as a result of torture, 57 died due to medical negligent, 74 were murdered right after their arrest, 7 were injured by fire arms inside prison.
What about the prisoners' health condition? 
There are 1200 sick prisoners 34 among them are handicapped, 21 diagnosed with cancer, 2 suffering from kidney problems, 17 suffering from heart problem, 19 prisoners are preeminently staying at Ramla hospital.
Prisoner leaders are those who have served more than 20 in the occupation prisons. 21 of the prisoners have already served over 25 years. 9 prisoners have served over 25 years with the longest serving prisoner Kareem Younis.
As always, Israel never honor its agreements or keep its word. 29 old prisoner prior to signing Oslo agreement in 1993 were never released as agreed upon by Israel. Israel is also holding 13 Palestinian lawmakers ( 4 of them are held under ADA, 2 received high sentence and 6 are detained without charges.)
A good friend of mine from the Jewish Voice for Peace organization sent me this  letter of support for the Palestinian prisoners was signed by several hundred lawyers, legal workers,, law students and legal organization. the signers also expressed support with Palestinian lawyers currently boycotting Israeli military courts. The boycott started on April 18 after Palestinian lawyers were denied legal visit to Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.
Letter of Support for Palestinian Hunger Strikers from Lawyers, Legal Workers, Law Students and Legal Organizations
Letter of Support for Palestinian Hunger Strikers from Lawyers, Legal Worke...

Over 200 lawyers, law students, legal workers and legal organizations have come together to sign the following l...

On Saturday, 6 May, Leila Khaled, the historic Palestinian resistance icon and active present-day political leader, announced an open-ended hunger strike in support of the striking prisoners. Gregory III Lahham, the Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and Alexandria and Jerusalem has launched a hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinians in Israeli jails. Lahham, 83, also launched his solidarity strike on Saturday, 6 May.  In an interview with Al-Mayadeen TV, he said “I say to the prisoners, we are with you in your sacrifice for Palestine.”

George Abdallah and several Arab detainees went on a three-day hunger strike with numerous prisoners from Marroco, Algeria and Tunisia from a French prison  in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. George Abdallah who is a Lebanese Christian who is serving time in French prison since 1984 have invited all international freedom-fighter movements to support to the prisoners who launched a hunger strike under the title of “Freedom and Dignity”.

The Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church Atallah Hanna announced on Sunday that he will start a hunger strike on Sunday May 7th in solidarity with the striking prisoners.

On the 15th days of the hunger strike, former PM of Lebanon Saleem Hoss , 88 years also joined in the hunger to express solidarity with the hunger strikers cause. Palestinians refugees in Lebanon launched severs hunger strikes inside tents set up in solidarity and a Catholic Church in the village of  "Maghdooshi" in south Lebanon held a mass and ran the church bells in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Solidarity strikes are spreading through Europe, Canada and the US after Manchester and Edinburgh studnet hunger strikes launched. A hunger strike tents are now set up by activists in Ireland, Scotland, Italy Spain, Belgium, the US and Canada. 3 Jordanian preisoners held in ISraeli jails also joined in.
On Sunday May 7, IOF shot and injured 28 Palestinian protesters near the Palestinain town Nablus and killed in cold blood a 16-year-old Faitme Hjeiji in the occupied East Jerasulem. She was hit by 20 bullets and soldiers prevented local residents from aiding her as she laid montionless. Her mother said she was on her 5th day of hunger strike.
On May 10, there will be a hunger strike camp set up in Karachi, Pakistan to protest the mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners.
Finally Israel confessed it can not stop the hunger strike after it failed to have Ahmad Sadaat and Samer Issawi to negotiate on behalf of the prisoners. Samer Issawi who holds the world record in hunger strike has refused to talk to Israeli officials and Mr. Sadaat who is the second most prominent prisoners told his jailers there is only one spokes person for the prisoners and his name is Marwan Barhoughti!
Desperate to put an end to the strike, Israeli officials tried to drive a wedge between the prisoners by:  it leaked fabricated pictures of Mr. Barghouti eating cookie inside his jail cell, trying to show the prisoners' leader as a cheater who should not be trusted. That too failed as later was discovered that Israel used old pictures..
A 16 year old girl Amira from the Palestinian town of Toulkarim in the West Bank had to be rushed to hospital after she went for four days on hunger strike. 
All Palestinian prisoners are subjected to systematic ill-treatment, medical neglect, beatings and torture, in Israel's prisons. Because of all this a fourth of the prisoners (that's 1784 people) are now on the third week of their hunger strike. Israel's reaction to the strike is more violence, more torture, more medical neglect. Don't say you didn't know, do something about it.
The detainees are aware of the life-threatening consequences of the hunger strike, but are determined to continue because they are fighting for basic, fundamental rights. The International Committee of Red Cross warned Israel that it is responsible for the lives of the detainees, and must be held accountable for its ongoing crimes and violations
If the 1800 Palestinian prisoner were to be Jews, You can bet the sky would fall down over the US and western Europe , this would be a 24/7 in the lame stream media and all western public officials would be tripping over each other to the microphone to raise holy hell.
If you are opposed to the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners and incensed by Israeli total disregard to international laws and human rights, then you are urged you to contact one or more of the following numbers/email listed below to support Palestinian hunger strikers.
Call your country’s officials urgently:
Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop: + 61 2 6277 7500
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland: +1-613-992-5234
European Union Commissioner Federica Mogherini: +32 (0) 2 29 53516
New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully: +64 4 439 8000
United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson: +44 20 7008 1500
United States President Donald Trump: 1-202-456-1111
The embassy of Israel in Washing, D.C. email address:
Readers living in different countires, can do the same by calling their public officials and by looking up the embassy of Israell's contact information in their repective countries and demand Israel ends its illegal, unjust and inhumane treatement of Palestinian prisoners immediately. 
Mahmoud El-Yousseph
Palestinian free lance writer


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