Karamah Strike: The Revolution of Empty Stomachs towards Achieving Freedom and Justice

Dignity Strike © google images

Dignity Strike © google images

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.”[1], adding that as transport minister, he would be willing to provide the buses to take the prisoners there.

Since 1967, the Zionist entity kidnapped and held captive more than 1 million Palestinians, including 15,000 women and tens of thousands of children. During the First Intifada 116,000 Palestinians were detained, including at least 3000 women. During Al-Aqsa Intifada more than 70,000 Palestinians were detained, including 900 women and 8000 children. On average, 9000 Palestinians are detained yearly, including 700 children. Latest statistics show that there are currently over 7000 Palestinian political prisoners held captive in 23 Israeli jails and detention centers; including 57 women, including 13 minors, 350 children, 500 administrative detainees, 13 MP, 2 former ministers, 28 journalists and at least 26 in isolation. 6000 of the prisoners are from the occupied West Bank, 680 from occupied Jerusalem and Palestinian areas occupied in 1948, 330 prisoners are from the besieged Gaza Strip. Additionally, there are 34 prisoners from various Arab nationalities held captive in Zionist dungeons. Moreover, at least 1800 Palestinian prisoners in need of medical care, including 180 suffering from serious illnesses, 26 Palestinian prisoners suffer from cancer, 17 suffering from heart problems, 89 prisoners suffering from various physical and mental disabilities. Additionally, 44 Palestinian prisoners who have spent 20+ years inside Israeli jails, including 29 prisoners who have been locked up in Israelis jails since before 1994, 25 prisoners who have spent 25+ years inside Israeli jails, and 9 prisoners who have spent 30+ years in Israeli jails. Also, 500 prisoners are serving life sentences. Since 1967, 210 Palestinian prisoners have been killed by the IOF since 1967: 71 as a result of torture, 74 killed in cold blood after being arrested, 58 as a result of medical negligence and 7 being shot dead inside prisons by the Israeli prison authorities.

Hunger strike poster © google images

Hunger strike poster © google images

A hunger strike is a legitimate form of resistance and protest used by Palestinian prisoners in the fight for their rights and to protest illegal detention, the inhumane conditions in Israeli dungeons, the baseless punishments, the policy of isolation, ill treatment and harassment. Through hunger strikes, Palestinian prisoners defy the jailors, refuse to submit and declare a struggle against torture, humiliation, over-crowded, damped and strangled cells, and medical negligence. They fight for their legitimate rights; they fight daily for their right to food, drink, family visitations, legal representation, and medical treatment. Through their willpower and their unwavering determination, they declare: Yes to the pain of hunger… No and a thousand NO to the pain of submission. While some hunger strikes are open-ended and last until the prisoners’ demands are met, others are one-day hunger strikes to protest a certain policy or show solidarity with other political prisoners. Also, there are mass general hunger strikes, in which all or a majority of prisoners in all Israeli jails take part, partial hunger strikes in which Palestinian prisoners in a particular Israeli prison declare a hunger strike to protest ill-treatment at that particular prison, and individual hunger strikes launched by a prisoner or a detainee to protests his/her detention or a certain IPA policy. Often the hunger strike are faced with oppression and repressive measures by the IPA, in an effort to silence the voices of Palestinian prisoners and break their will and determination. Tzahi Hanegbi, former Israeli ministry for internal security, said in 2004 after Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails declared a hunger strike against the inhumane prison conditions: “They can strike for a day, a month, until death. We will ward off this strike and it will be as if it never happened. He has ordered large, open grills to be set up to barbecue meat and for bread to be baked just outside the prison doors, to torture prisoners with the smells. Prison guards are encouraged to eat all this in front of the fasting prisoners.”[2] He later said: “for all I care, they can starve to death!”[3]. The IPA tries forcibly to end the hunger strikes through inhumane measures, such as forced feeding. These measures have led to the martyrdom of 6 prisoners:
1. Abdel Qader Jabir Ahmad Abu Al-Fahim, from Jabalia RC, martyred on 11.05.1970 in Asqalan prison.
2. Rasim Mohammad Halaweh, from Jabalia RC, martyred on 20.07.1980 in Nafha prison.
3. Ali Shehadeh Mohammad Al-Ja’fari, from Dheisheh RC, martyred on 24.07.1980 in Nafha prison.
4. Anis Mahmoud Douleh, from Qalqilia, martyred on 31.08.1980 in Asqalan prison.
5. Ishaq Mousa Al-Maraghah, from Silwan, martyred on 16.11.1983 in Beir Al-Sabi’ prison.
6. Hussein As’ad Ubeidat, from Jerusalem, martyred on 04.10.1992 in Asqalan prison.

The open hunger strike is a step rarely taken by the prisoners as it is dangerous, and they resort to such a step when all the other steps of the struggle have been exhausted and their demands are not met through an open dialogue with the IPA. Over the past decades, Palestinian prisoners have launched a series of mass and individual hunger strikes to protest their detention and the denial of their basic human rights as political prisoners and detainees held in captivity without trial, forcing the IPA to bow to many of their demands, many of which were later relinquished by the IPA, forcing the prisoners to resume their hunger strikes. The following are the most prominent mass hunger strikes launched by prisoners in Israeli jails to extract their rights:
1. Early 1968: Prisoners in Nablus prison went on a 3-day hunger strike to protest the policy of beating and humiliation to which they were subjected, and to demand better living and humanitarian conditions.
2. 18.02.1969: Prisoners in Ramleh prison went on a hunger strike for 11 days to demand better food quality and an increase in its quantity, allowing stationery in cells, the refusal to be forced to address the jailer with: “yes, master”, and the refusal of preventing the gathering of more than two prisoners in the yard, and increasing the time of the “fora”, which is a term that describes the time that a prisoners spend walking in the small prison yard. But the strike was suspended after the prisoners were repressed, humiliated and isolated.
3. 18.02.1969: Prisoners in “Kfar Yona” prison for 8 days, in conjunction with the Ramleh prison strike, demanding the change of their bad mattresses, improving the food quality and increase its quantity, allowing stationery in cells, and the refusal to be forced to address the jailer with: “yes, master”. The strike succeeded in forcing the jailors in allowing in some stationary to enable prisoners to write letter to their families, and cancelling the word “master” from the prison dictionary.
4. 28.04.1970: Female prisoners went on hunger strike in Neve Tirza prison for 9 days. despite being subjected to humiliation, punishment and solitary confinement, they were able to achieve a few of their demands, such as improving ventilation within cells, increasing the time of the “fora” and the allowing in certain items needed by women.
5. 05.07.1970: Prisoners in Ashkelon prison went on hunger strike for 7 days to demand allowing in stationery and clothes and increasing the time of the “fora”. After the IPA promised to meet the demands of the prisoners, it disclaimed them as usual.
6. 13.09.1973: Prisoners in Ashkelon prison went on hunger strike for 25 days to demand some of their basic rights, which was faced with IPA repression and repudiation of given pledges.
7. 11.12.1976: Prisoners in Ashkelon prison went on hunger strike for 45 days to improve their living conditions. The IPA allowed stationery into the cells, delivering family letters to the prisoners, improving the quality and quantity of food, and replacing worn-out mattresses.
8. 24.02.1977: Prisoners in Ashkelon prison went on hunger strike for 20 days after the IPA retracted some promises made to them in the previous strike.
9. 14.07.1980: Prisoners in Nafha prison went on mass hunger strike for 32 days to demand better living conditions. The prisoners were brutally attached by the IPA, which tried to break the hunger strike through forced feeding (forcing liquids into the throats of the prisoners), which led to the martyrdom of Ali Al-Ja’fari from Dheisheh RC and Rasim Halawah from Jabalia. Later, prisoner Ishaaq Maragha was martyred as a result of this procedure. Following the martyrdom of Al-Ja’fari and Halawah, prisoners in other Israeli jails joined in the strike, and there was much Palestinian public support for the hunger strike. The prisoners were able to gain some of their rights, such as allowing beds in cells, expanding the size of cells and yards, lifting the iron sheet from the upper ceiling of the door and replacing it with a net, and allowing in photo albums and stationery materials.
10. 10.09.1984: Prisoners in Jneid prison went on mass hunger strike for 13 days. The rest of the prisoners in other jails joined in the hunger strike. They gained rights that were considered “red lines” for the occupation, such as allowing radio, television and civilian clothes, in addition to improving the quality of food and treatment.
11. 12.11.1984: Female prisoners went on hunger strike for a few days.
12. March 1985: Prisoners in Nafhah prison went on a hunger strike for 6 days.
13. 25.03.1987: Prisoners in Jneid prison went on hunger strike for 20 days. Over 3000 Palestinian prisoners in other Israeli jails joined in the strike. The strike was suspended without tangible results after the IPA broke its promises to the prisoners.
14. 25.03.1987: Prisoners in Jneid prison went on hunger strike for 20 days.
15. 23.01.1988: Prisoners in all Israeli jails declared a hunger strike in solidarity with the general strikes declared by the Unified Leadership of the Palestinian Intifada against the occupation, which erupted in December 1987.
16. 23.06.1991: Prisoners in Nafha prison went on hunger strike for 17 days demanding the return to the status before the withdrawal of many of their rights, but the strike was suspended with promises only, and the IPA did not implement any of them.
17. 27.09.1992: 7000 prisoners in most Israeli prisons went on a mass hunger strike for 18 days, which ended with great success, and resulted in the closure of the isolation section at Ramleh prison, ending the naked inspection, resuming the visits and extending them, allowing special visits, allowing kitchen tiles in the cells, allowing the purchase of canned foods and soft drinks and expanding the list of purchases in the canteen. This strike is called the “Mother of all Battles” by Palestinian prisoners, and is considered among the most successful hunger strikes because of the many demands that were achieved.. Over 12000 Palestinian prisoners joined the strike that received much Palestinian public support. Prisoner Hussein Ibeidat from Jerusalem died of medical negligence he was subjected to during the strike.
18. 21.06.1994: Prisoners in most Israeli went on hunger strike for 3 days following the signing of the Cairo Agreement (Gaza – Jericho first) in protest against the implementation mechanism of the section related to the release of 5000 Palestinian prisoners according to the Agreement.
19. 18.06.1995: The prisoners went on hunger strike for 18 days under the slogan: “The release of all Palestinian male and female prisoners without exception”, in an effort to mobilize people and bring attention to their cause before the Taba negotiations.
20. 1996: Prisoners in Ashkelon prison went on hunger strike for 18 days. Thstrike ended following promises from the IPA to improve the living conditions of Palestinian prisoners, first and foremost to give every prisoner a sponge mattress. But as usual the IPA did not abide with its promises, and the prisoners were forced to return to the strike until the IPA submitted to the prisoners’ demands, and brought mattresses and introduced some improvements.
21. 05.12.1998: The prisoners in Ramleh prison went on hunger strike to protest the occupation’s release of 150 criminal prisoners, as part of a deal which included the release of (750) political prisoners according to the Wye River agreement.
22. 01.05.2000: The prisoners in Ramleh prison went on an open hunger strike for 1 month in protest against the policy of isolation, restrictions and conditions affecting family visits. Prisoners from other prisons joined the hunger strike. It was agreed to achieve some demands after a couple of months, such as immediate removal of isolated prisoners, ending naked searches, and promises to solve the problem of public phones, and allowing prisoners to enroll at the Arab Open University, but this did not happen.
23. 26.06.2001: Female prisoners in Neve Tirza went on hunger strike for 8 days in protest against their poor condition.
24. 15.08.2004: Prisoners in all Israeli prisons went on hunger strike for 19 days to demand better conditions, which resulted in some minor achievements and stopped the last waves of procedures against which the strike was launched.
25. November 2004: Most of the prisons launched an open strike, but not of the prisoners’ demands were met.
26. 10.07.2006: Prisoners in Shatta prison went on hunger strike for 6 days in protest against the humiliating search procedures of family members during the visits, as well as to improve the living conditions, especially the night inspection.
27. 18.11.2007: Prisoners in all Israeli prisons went on a hunger strike for 1 day and achieved some partial demands.
28. 07.04.2010: Prisoners in 10 Israeli jails and 3 military detention facilities went on a 24-hour hunger strike to protest the inhumane treatment they receive on the hands of IPA, the use of family visits to blackmail Palestinian prisoners and the humiliating treatment and the abuse their families endure during visits and the cancellation of family visits for Gaza prisoners and for many West Bank prisoners. This action was repeated on the 17 and 27.04.2010.
29. 2011: Prisoners of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and some isolated prisoners went on hunger strike for 22 days to demand an end to the policy of solitary confinement. The strike began in stages, and other prisons declared their solidarity, but did not join in the hunger strike, with the exception of prisoners in the Jilboa prison, who participated in the strike. The hunger strike suspended with the implementation of the prisoners swap deal “Wafa’ Al-Ahrar”.
30. 03.07.2011: 7000 prisoners in all Israeli jails went on a 1 day hunger strike to protest the repressive measures of the Israeli prison administration. They were the target of an unprecedented campaign of repression, the transfer from one prison to another over the past few weeks, and the isolation of many prisoners serving high sentences. The repression peaked with the beating of the oldest serving prisoner Nael al-Barghouthi, which prisoners condemned as a violation of all red lines.
31. 27.09.2011: over 100 prisoners started an open hunger strike to protest Israeli treatment and demand their rights and their freedom and demand an end to solitary confinement and an end to the systematic humiliation of Palestinian detainees and their families.
32. 17.04.2012: Prisoners went on hunger strikes to protest a series of punitive measures carried out by the IPA against Palestinian prisoners. This included the hunger strike of administrative detainees , such as Khader Adnan, Hana’ Al-Shalabi, Thaer Ha;ahleh, Bilal Thiab and others who launched hunger strikes, demanding an end to the policy of administrative detention and the policy of isolation, allowing family visits for Gaza prisoners, deleting the “Shalit law”. The prisoners reaching agreements with the IPA.
33. 24.04.2014: The strike of 120 administrative prisoners in Megiddo, Ofer and the Negev prisons in protest against the continued administrative detention without charge or trial, and demanding the abolition of the policy of administrative detention. Tens of administrative detainees and sentenced prisoners joined the strike in solidarity until their number exceeded 220 prisoners. The IPA tried to break the strike by force; but could not. After 63 days, the administrative detainees suspended their strike after the IPA agreed to cancel all the sanctions imposed on the prisoners at the start of the strike, and to return them to the prisons from which they were transferred, in addition to agreeing to continue dialogue with the IPA on the issue of administrative detention.

The demands of the over 2000 Palestinian political prisoners on open hunger strike are as follows:
1) Installation of a public telephone for the Palestinian prisoners in all prisons and sections in order to communicate with their families and relatives.
2) Visitation right:
2.1) Allowing the second visit which was stopped by the Red Cross.
2.2) Regularity of visits every two weeks, and not obstructing them by any side.
2.3) No relative of the first and second degree shall be prevented from visiting the prisoner.
2.4) Increasing the duration of the visit from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
2.5) Allowing the prisoner to take photos with his/her parents every three months.
2.6) Establishment of comfort facilities for the families at the prison entrance.
2.7) Allowing children and grandchildren under the age of 16 with each visit.
3) The medical file:
3.1) Closing the so-called “Ramla Prison Hospital” for failing to provide the necessary treatment.
3.2) Ending the policy of medical negligence.
3.3) Conducting periodic medical examinations.
3.4) Performing surgeries quickly and exceptionally.
3.5) Allowing doctors with specialization from abroad to visit prisoners.
3.6) The release of sick prisoners, especially those with disabilities and incurable diseases.
3.7) Not to charge the prisoner the cost of treatment.
4) Responding to the needs and demands of Palestinian female prisoners, whether the demand for special transport and direct visitation with family members without a barrier.
5) “Posta”:
5.1) Providing humane treatment to prisoners during their journeys in the “Posta”.
5.2) Returning the prisoners to prisons from clinics and courts, and not keeping them waiting in the “Posta” at the checkpoints.
5.3) Preparing the checkpoints in a manner that is suitable for human use and providing meals for the prisoners.
6) Adding satellite channels that are suitable for the needs of the prisoners.
7) Installing ACs in the prisons, especially in the prisons of Megiddo and Gilboa.
8) Returning kitchens in all prisons, and placing them under complete supervision of Palestinian prisoners.
9) Allowing prisoners to receive books, newspapers, clothing, food and other special items during visits.
10) Ending the policy of solitary confinement.
11) Ending the policy of administrative detention.
12) Re-allowing the prisoners to enroll and study at the Hebrew Open University.
13) Allowing the prisoners to submit the Tawjihi examinations in a formal and agreed upon manner.

Stop Administrative Detention © google images

Stop Administrative Detention © google images

The Policy of Administrative detention: Since 1967, the Zionist entity held thousands of Palestinians held in administrative detention, for periods ranging from months to years, including 2000 administrative detainees during the First Intifada, and around 23,000 administrative detention orders were issued since 2000. These detainees are held without charge or trial, and often their detention is extended in the final minutes of their captivity, which increases their suffering and that of their families. The Zionist entity often kidnaps Palestinians from their homes and holds them in administrative detention. Administrative detention allows the Israeli military to hold Palestinians captive for up to 6 months which can be extended indefinitely without being brought before a judge or informed of the reason for their detention. Israeli prison authorities use administrative detention as prolonged detention, and over the years, thousands of Palestinian prisoners have been held in administrative detention for periods ranging from 6 months to over 8 years, without being tried or charged. This is done in order to keep the detainees in Israeli captivity as long as possible, especially political and community activists and MPs. In some cases, Palestinian detainees were held captive without charge or trial for 10 years and more. The Israeli occupation resorts to administrative detention and so-called secret files, prepared by the Israeli intelligence, when the prosecution is unable to prove the charge on the detainee. According to the orders governing administrative detention, Palestinians are tried by Israeli military courts consisting of a panel of 3 judges appointed by the Israeli occupation forces. These judges, who are authorized to approve or cancel the time of the administrative detention order, often have no legal background and thus don’t fulfill international standards for a fair trial.

Medical Negligence © google images

Medical Negligence © google images

Medical negligence: One form of punishing Palestinian prisoners is medical negligence. Reasons for the deteriorating health conditions among Palestinian prisoners include: torture, overcrowded cells, lack of hygiene in cells, high degree of moisture, dirty mattresses, unhealthy and inedible food. Many prisoners suffer from cancer, heart diseases, blood pressure problems, respiratory and kidney diseases, diabetes, severe inflammation, Hemiplegia, bone and skin diseases, paralysis, vision loss, dental problems, various handicaps and other malignant or chronic diseases. Some suffer from past injuries inflicted upon them by the Israeli occupation army during their arrest, or by the Israeli prison authority and the Israeli intelligence (Shabak) during interrogation and after it. Many await an inevitable death because of medical negligence, lack of appropriate medical treatment, medications and specialists to treat their cases. In addition to physical suffering, a number of Palestinian prisoners suffer from mental and psychological ailments due to the interrogation methods used by the Israeli Shabak and the Israeli prison authorities, which include torture. Palestinian prisoners in need of medical treatment are denied appropriate and urgent medical care. Instead, they are punished with isolation, withholding or delaying the provision of medicine and treatment, thus contributing to the deterioration in their situation and leaving them to die a slow and painful death. Palestinian patients are treated either in the so-called prison clinics or are sent to the Ramleh prison “hospital”, both of which lack basic medical equipment and supplies and are run by military personnel with little to no medical training. They are not allowed to see a specialist or be taken to a special clinic or get treatment in Israeli hospitals and no doctors are available for emergencies at night. Dany Naveh, former Israeli health minister, gave orders preventing Palestinian prisoners from receiving treatment in health facilities: “let them be treated where they lie … we don’t want these murderers in hospitals.”[4] Palestinian prisoners who need urgent treatment get interrogated in the so-called prison clinics and are blackmailed into giving information or admitting to things they didn’t commit. According to one report, upon arrest, Palestinian political detainees are first taken to the prison clinic for a medical test to determine their weak points so these might be used by Shabak during interrogations. Patients are transferred in vans to the Ramlah prison “hospital” instead of in ambulances and they are hand and leg bound. They are also hand and leg bound during the operations which are often conducted without anesthetic.

Those urgently in need of medical help have often to wait long before receiving the appropriate treatment, if they are lucky enough to get any treatment at all, and are often left to die a slow and painful death. All ailment and diseases, no matter how malignant, are “treated” with pain killers, expired or other useless or unknown medicines, no matter how severe the case, and those who do get “treated” end up in a worse situation and with new ailments. Examples exist of prisoners who needed urgent surgery but didn’t receive it, and of others who had to wait years before they were finally operated, with the condition of the patients not getting better after the operation, and others who lost their eye-sight, movement in their limbs and caught serious diseases after being “treated”. There are cases of prisoners suffering from diabetes where the deliberate delay in providing the needed medical help had led to the amputation of their limbs. Several registered cases of mass food poisoning inside the prisons strengthen what many prisoners and prisoner organizations say about Palestinian prisoners being used against their will and knowledge as test persons in medical experiments conducted by the Israeli prison authorities. One very disturbing fact is the rise in the number of cancer patients. Many reports mentions prisoners who were healthy before being detained and later developing cancer; some while in detention and other immediately after their release. No special diet is provided for patients who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and often food is out-dated and poisonous. Patients who need continuous medication for their chronic disease are often deprived of the medication as punishment. There is also a lack of medical equipment for chronic cases or artificial limbs and a lack of isolation rooms for patients with infectious diseases.

Since 1967, at least 58 Palestinians held captive in Israeli dungeons were killed due to the deliberate medical negligence widespread in Israeli dungeons. Moreover, hundreds of detainees suffering from chronic diseases died shortly after being released from Israeli jails. A number of Palestinian prisoners suffering from cancer were only released when their condition became hopeless and the Zionist entity wanted to avoid having the prisoner die in its jails and exposing the policy of deliberate medical negligence. According to the latest statistics, there are over 1800 Palestinian prisoners with medical problems, hundreds of them are in need of surgery. Moreover, Torture is one systematic policy of the IPA. 71 Palestinians prisoners have been tortured to death inside Israeli dungeons and interrogation cells. Torture is used systematically against Palestinians in Israeli jails. Israeli laws legalize torture and allow Israeli intelligence services to use “moderate degree of physical pressure”, whatever that is, against Palestinians and Arab prisoners and protect these interrogators from prosecution. For the use of severe physical pressure, interrogates of Shabak (general security services) have to get the “permission” of their superiors. Torture is not only limited to male adult Palestinian prisoners, females and children are also tortured to extract confessions. The Israeli interrogators use over 80 methods of physical and psychological torture, including severe beating, shackling, depriving the detainees of sleep, burning detainees with cigarettes, removing their nails, shabih, freezing or boiling baths, standing for long hours, sexual harassment. “All of the detainees who are detained exposed to inhuman treatment, fettering hands and legs and covering eyes. 99% of them are beating, 93% are deprived from sleeping, 92% are forced to stand for a long time, 88% are exposed to “shabh” policy and 68% are exposed to stay what-so called fridge for hours and days” … “Concerning Israeli usage of the methods of torture for trade, Amnesty International report entitled the trades of pain stated;” Israel is the most productive state in producing different methods of torture in order to be source for trade such as shackling, chemical substances, tear gas, electroshock and poisonous drugs.”[5]

Isolation © google images

Isolation © google images

Isolation: Solitary confinement is used by the Israeli prison authority to punish Palestinian political prisoners for protesting the inhumane treatment they receive on the hands of Israeli jailors, for demanding their rights, for being political leaders or for no reason other than persecuting and harassing these prisoners. Justifications provided range from “causing a threat”, “being dangerous” to having “influence” on other prisoners. This form of punishing Palestinian political prisoners is used to humiliate them and to isolate them from the outside world. Currently, there are currently at least 26 Palestinians prisoners in solitary confinement. 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 or to news from other prisons. In isolation, many Palestinian prisoners are subjected to all forms of physical, psychological and emotional suffering. Isolation cells have an area of only 1.8m x 2.7m, including the WC. The cells are damp and 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 and leading to respiratory diseases. 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. Isolated prisoners are deprived of family visitation. Family members, who often make the long and hard trip to the Israeli prisons, are often turned back without being allowed to see their loved ones. Also, those who have family members locked up as well inside Israeli jails are not allowed to see them. Other punishments include sending the prisoners to the “snooker”, which a very small room (180cm x 150cm). The only facilities in the room are two containers for drinking and washing after urinating. Prisoners locked up in the “snooker” are allowed to go to the toilet only once a day. A number of isolated prisoners are in need of urgent medical treatment but do not receive it.

Family Visits © google images

Family Visits © google images

Family Visitation: Another method of punishing Palestinian prisoners that is favoured by the Israeli prison authority is reducing family visitation for Palestinian prisoners from 45 minutes to 15 minutes, or cancelling all visitations despite the hardships the families endure to reach the prisons. When a Palestinian child reaches the age of 16, he/she is prevented from visiting their detained parent anymore without special permits which aren’t easy to get. In addition, many Palestinian prisoners have been denied their visitation rights completely for years now. Families of prisoners on their way to visit their imprisoned child are often abused and humiliated at Israeli checkpoints and parents are asked to undergo naked body searches. This forces many families to return without visiting their children. Sometimes, after this long and tiresome journey, parents reach the Israeli jail where their child is held, only to be told by the Israeli prison authority that the visit had been cancelled and to be turned back without giving a reason or any justification. Lawyers are also often prevented from meeting with Palestinian prisoners as a means of punishment to Palestinian prisoners. One other form of denying Palestinian prisoners their right to family visitation is through separating them from other family members also held captive by the Zionist entity. There are many cases of Palestinian prisoners who were imprisoned as well as other family members, such as their partners, children or their siblings, but were not allowed to visit them.

Posta © google images

Posta © google images

Posta: When Palestinians prisoners are transported from the prisons to courts and vise-versa, they are held for long periods in the “posta”, which is the prisoners’ transportation truck. It is an iron structures with iron chairs and walls, smells of vomit, and has no toilet or ventilation despite the fact that the journey in the “posta” lasts hours. The “posta” is very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. It’s “journey” usually lasts 12 hours and in some cases even days, whereby prisoners leave their cells at 3 am and return to them at 12 midnight, causing them great physical and psychological pain. Prisoners have to travel long distances while hand and leg shackled, and they cannot sit in a comfortable position, because the seats are very close to each other to the point of causing pain to the knee, joints and back, and they are not allowed to eat or drink, and are treated harshly for the duration of the journey. Often, Israeli military courts deliberately postpone issuing a verdict to increase the psychological and physical pressure caused by the transport in the “posta” to courts and back. Israeli criminal prisoners are sometimes transferred with Palestinian political detainees in the “posta”, and they insult them all the way and attack them, while the Nachshon forces in charge of transferring prisoners attack the Palestinian detainees constantly. At the court, Palestinian prisoners and detainees are held in a very cold room for hours before the session, and afterwards. These “waiting rooms” are very cold, with baton chairs, are very humid and are as dirty as a dumpsite. The prisoner is not allowed to use the toilet, even if he/she needs it urgently, because of its dirtiness.

Palestinian political prisoners and detainees are on day 12 of the open-ended Dignity hunger strike to demand their basic human rights. While they defy the jailors with their empty stomachs, it is our duty to unite around their demands and to support them in their revolution. While they fight the injustice and violations of the Israeli IPA with water and salt, it is our duty to mobilize everyone; young and old, male and female, worker and student, farmer and activist, it is our duty to call everyone to the streets of occupied Palestine, and the streets of the world, in support of the legitimate demands of Palestinian political prisoners. Palestinian political prisoners and detainees are standing steadfast with unwavering determination; their revolution has begun, and is on-going until victory. They are our fathers, our mothers, brothers, our sisters, our comrades, our friends. Their struggle is ours, their pain is ours, their hunger is ours, their thirst is ours and their revolution is ours. We are the voice of the prisoners in their struggle, it is our duty to amplify their voice, to force the entire world to pay attention, to listen to the just demands of Palestinian prisoners, for their freedom is ours and as long as they are in captivity, none of us is free.
Palestinian political prisoners are fighting for freedom and dignity, they are fighting for our collective freedom and dignity; they need our Support! To Support them, please Take Action!

Freedom to ALL Palestinian political prisoners and detainees.


[1] http://www.imeu.net
[2] http://www.cageprisoners.com/articles.php?id=3088
[3] http://globalresearch.ca/articles/AVN408A.html
[4] http://www.ppsmo.org
[5] http://www.waed.ps/en/#

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2 Responses to Karamah Strike: The Revolution of Empty Stomachs towards Achieving Freedom and Justice

  1. Pingback: Their Hunger is ours. Their Revolution is ours. | *Orbis Non Sufficit*

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