On 17.04.2017, on the Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, more than 1500 Palestinian prisoners held captive in Zionist jails launched a mass open hunger strike, the “Dignity Hunger Strike”, by which they will refrain from taking food and only drink water and salt. additional prisoners joined the hunger strike over the days, to reach over 2000. Through this hunger strike, the prisoners demand a series of improvements to their living conditions, an end to the policies of solitary confinement, administrative detention and medical negligence. Palestinian prisoners resort to hunger strikes after they exhaust all other attempts to extract their rights from the Israeli Prison Authority (IPA) through dialogue, hunger strike being the most effective way to demand the improvement of humanitarian conditions inside the prisons. Hunger strikes are known as the battles of the “empty stomachs”, because once hunger strikes are launched, prisoners refrain from eating all the food except for water and a little salt, and thus they use their bodies to demand their rights and resist injustice. This is not without risks to their health, and has led to the martyrdom of some prisoners.
The IPA refuses to recognize the legitimate rights of Palestinian political prisoners and detainees, and violates these rights on a daily basis. In addition to systematic torture, physical and verbal abuse, repeated attacks and humiliation, Palestinian political prisoners and detainees are constantly subjected to medical negligence and are denied proper nourishment. Cells are daily raided and searched, often at night, and the private property of prisoners is destroyed or confiscated. They are tied up for hours under the hot sun or under the rain, are deprived of sleep, isolated. They are forced to buy their own food and water for extremely high prices from the prison canteen and to pay for the water and electricity they consume. Israeli raids are carried out on a daily bases in occupied Palestine. Family visits are restricted or cancelled and many Palestinian prisoners are denied their visitation rights completely. There were cases where families of prisoners on their way to see their children were abused and humiliated at Israeli checkpoints and parents were asked to undergo naked body searches. This forced the families to return without visiting their children. Political prisoners are further punished by the IPA through being forced to buy their own food and water for extremely high prices from the prison canteen and to pay for the water and electricity they consume through high fines imposed on prisoners for trivial reason such as leaving the bathroom one minute later than decided by the jailor. These sums are withdrawn from the prisoners’ accounts without their knowledge. Families of prisoners are further collectively punished by Israel: some families have their homes demolished, others have their property destroyed and often parents, siblings and children of prisoners are taken as hostages to pressure prisoners into confessing to things they didn’t do. Avigdor Lieberman, current Israeli foreign minister, stated on 07.07.2003 in front of the Israeli Knesset in a discussion on Palestinian political prisoners that “It would be better to drown these prisoners in the Dead Sea if possible, since that’s the lowest point in the world.”, adding that as transport minister, he would be willing to provide the buses to take the prisoners there. Continue reading