Silver Lining

Food for thought

Palestinian political prisoners; the struggle for a free Palestine continues

by Reham Alhelsi, A voice from Palestine

Today, Palestinian political detainee Hana’ Ash-Shalabi, held captive in Israeli dungeons without trial or charge, is on her 29th day of an open-ended hunger strike against her illegal detention. Hana’ continues the fight against injustice, determined, steadfast and strong, while Palestinians, solidarity activists and conscientious people all over the world stand in solidarity with her and her struggle for freedom, for her rights and against illegal detention. And while the growing solidarity movement joins hands with Hana’ and spreads her message in every village and town in occupied Palestine and in the rest of the world, Palestinian political detainees and prisoners held captive in Israeli dungeons join Hana’ in her struggle and support her. Since Hana’ declared her hunger strike – days ago, a number of Palestinian detainees gradually joined her in her fight for freedom. Many of these detainees are among the 310 Palestinians held in detention without trial or charge. Together, they protest the illegal policy of administrative detention which is an illegal detention that allows the Israeli military to hold Palestinian prisoners indefinitely with charge or trial. Two days ago, on
14.03.2012, 75 years old MP Ahmad Al-Haj Ali started an open hunger strike to protest his administrative detention. Al-Haj Ali has been in a renewed administrative detention in Majido dungeon since 9 months and suffers from diabetes and heart problems. He is one of 27 Palestinian MP held hostage by the Zionist entity.

Hana’ Ash-Shalabi and Ahmad Al-Haj Ali are only two among many Palestinians who are currently fighting oppression and injustice in Israeli dungeons through hunger strikes. According to one report, all Palestinian administrative detainees will gradually join the hunger-strike, and will start with general hungers-strikes on Sundays and Thursdays of every week until administrative detention is abolished. Following is a chronology of Palestinian detainees joining Hana’ in her struggle (list is according to various Palestinian prisoner sites)

On 01.03.2012: administrative detainees Bilal Thiab and Tha’ir Halahleh, held captive in An-Naqab prison, started an open-ended hunger strike in solidarity with Hana’ and against their administrative detention.
On 03.03.2012: Murad Malayshah and Islam Shu’aybi started a hunger strike in solidarity with Hana’ and against administrative detention.

On 05.03.2012: Hasan Safadi, Mohammad Abu ‘Arab and Omar Shalal started an open-ended hunger strike in solidarity with Hana’ and against administrative detention. Both Hasan Safadi and Mohammad Abu ‘Arab have been held in renewed administrative detention. Abu ‘Arab was detained in August 2010 for one year, and hours before his release he was placed under administrative detention. Since then, his detention has been renewed for the 3rd consecutive time without trial or charge.
On 06.03.2012: 6 Palestinians held captive in An-Naqab prison started an open hunger strike in solidarity with Hana’ and her demand to end administrative detention. The prisoners are: Mu’tasim Jaradat, Husni Jaradat, Muhannad Jaradat, Riyad Abu ‘Ahur, Mohammad Al-Batmah and Mohammad Karajah. Meanwhile in Majiddo, prisoners Tariq Qa’dan, Ayman Batsh, Nathmi Saba’nah, Tha’ir Daraghmah, Fayez Ash-Shayeb and Nidal Abu Shadoof declared a hunger strike.

On 12.03.2012: prisoner solidarity sites reported that 14 Palestinians held captive in Majiddo were on hunger strike in solidarity with Hana’: Tariq Qa’dan, Ayman Batsh, Nathmi Saba’nah, Tha’ir Daraghmah, Fayez Ash-Shayeb, Murad Malayshah, Rami Foudah, Salih Kmeil, Bilal Kmeil, Mohammad ’Ineitri, Hamzah Qa’aur, Adham Al-Jamal, Mohammad Al-‘Aboushi, and Adib Al-Qit.

Protesting his illegal detention and the inhumane treatment at the hands of Israeli jailors, 51 years old Kifah Hattab from Tulkarim is today on his 20th day of open-ended hungers strike. Hattab has been held captive in Israeli dungeons since 04.06.2003. He refuses to acknowledge Israeli military orders and on 26.02.2012 started a second open-ended hunger strike to demand Israeli prison authority respect humanitarian and international law and treat Palestinian prisoners as “Prisoners of War”. He is fined 250 shekels/day for refusing to attend the daily prisoner count. This is not the first time Hattab has been on hunger-strike: on 17.04.2011 he started a hunger strike that lasted 20 days, during which he was punished with isolation.

While Palestinian detainees protest the illegal administrative detention, another struggle is under way in Israeli dungeons. Among the 4600 Palestinians held captive in Israeli dungeons, over 20 Palestinians are locked up in isolation cells. Isolation is one form used by Israeli prison authority to punish Palestinian political prisoners, and usually isolation orders are extended without reason and prisoners who are placed in isolation remain so for many years and have no access to other prisoners, no contact with the outside world. Isolation cells have an area of only 1.8m x 2.7m, including the WC. These cells are damp, badly ventilated. They have an iron door that is fitted with an opening for passing food to the prisoner and one small window close to the ceiling causing high humidity. Neither fresh air nor natural light enter the isolation cells. Prisoners are expected to live, cook, sleep, shower and excrete in these cells. There is almost no room for movement and little space for personal items. In their continuous struggle for freedom and for their rights, Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli dungeons started a new protest action entitled “Revolution of the Prisoners of Freedom” which is a comprehensive struggle action to protest the policy of isolation. The protest is to start gradually, and grow in intensity and rate of protests with every new struggle phase and finally lead to civil disobedience and an open-ended hunger strike in all Israeli jails until the demands of Palestinian political prisoners are met. This wave of protests is against isolation, medical negligence, administrative detention and the prohibition of family visits. The stages of the struggle are:
- Between 28.02.2012 to 15.03.2012: hunger strikes in all Israeli jails every Tuesday.
- Between 16.03.2012 to 31.03.2012: hunger strike twice a week.
- Between 01.04.2012 to 21.04.2012: daily protest actions such as boycotting Israeli courts.
- On 17.04.2012: a day of protest and general strike, prisoners remain in cells, no interaction with Israeli jailors.
- On 18.04.2012: a day of general strike.
- On 22.04.2012: civil disobedience in all Israeli jails for 5 days.
- If by 27.04.2012 the demands of the Palestinian political prisoners have not been met, Palestinian prisoners will declare a general open-ended hunger strike. The exact date for the hunger strike is not to be declared yet to avoid any retaliation by Israeli prison authority.

Among Palestinian political prisoners currently held in isolation are:
- Abbas As-Sayyed: from Tulkarim, in isolation since 9 years.
- Hasan Salameh: from Khan Younis, in isolation since 7 years.
- Ahmad Al-Mughrabi: from Dheisheh RC, in isolation since 7 years.
- Abdallah Al-Barghouthi: from Beit Rima, in isolation since 7 years.
- Jamal Abu Al-Haija: from Jenin RC, in isolation since 7 years.
- Ahmad Saadat: from Ramallah, in isolation since 2009.
- Ahid Al-Ghalmeh: in isolation since 2010.
- Mahmoud Issa: from Anata, in isolation since 10 years.
- Mahmoud ‘Irman: in isolation since 28.5.11.
- Mahmoud Al-‘Ardah: from Arrabah.
- Riziq Rjoub: from Hebron.
- Saber Abu Thiab.
- Ibrahim Hamid: from Silwad, in isolation since 5 years.
- Bajis Nakhlah.
- Dirar Abu Sisi: from Gaza.
- Walid Khalid.
- Munthi Al-Ju’beh: from Hebron.
- Raed Abu Thahir.

According to latest reports, currently there are around 4600 Palestinian political prisoners held captive in Israeli dungeons, including 8 women, 138 children, 310 administrative detainees and 27 MPs. At least 20 of these prisoners are held captive in isolation cells.

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