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Palestinians hold general strike in support of hunger-striking prisoners

Over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have refused food for nearly two weeks to protest prison conditions and practices like administrative detention. A ‘day of rage’ is planned for Friday.

Palestinian shops in Nablus’s market are shuttered as part of a general strike called in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, Nablus, April 27, 2017. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian shops in Nablus’s market are shuttered as part of a general strike called in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, Nablus, April 27, 2017. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

A general strike in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners on took place across the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Thursday. Shops in commercial districts shuttered their doors, leaving normally busy streets and markets empty.

“Shops, institutions, banks, and schools all closed in support of the hunger strikers,” Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported. In addition, a “day of rage” was planned for Friday, with protests expected in a number of Palestinian cities.

Smaller protests have been taking place on both sides of the Green Line for nearly two weeks, outside Israeli prisons and also in town and city centers.

At least 1,200 Palestinian prisoners are taking part in the now-12-day hunger strike, demanding improved conditions in Israeli prisons. Among the demands of the prisoners are: an end to administrative detention, more family visits and more phones for contacting family, access to education, and an end to the use of solitary confinement. Prisoners had access to many of the conditions now being demanded, but Israeli authorities revoked some of them as retribution for the 2006 capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit and 2014 deadly kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers.

Protesters hold a vigil in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Clocktower Square in Jaffa, April 25, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

Protesters hold a vigil in support of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Clocktower Square in Jaffa, April 25, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

Individual hunger strikes have become more common in recent years, primarily undertaken by prisoners being held without charge or trial (in administrative detention), although larger groups of Palestinian prisoners have also launched larger hunger strikes over the years.

Civil rights group Adalah filed an emergency petition with the High Court of Justice on Thursday demanding that the Israel Prison Service allow the hunger-striking prisoners visits with their lawyers; prison officials have been preventing them from meeting with attorneys as punishment for not eating. Preventing lawyer visits with prisoners as a punitive measure is a direct contradiction of previous Supreme Court rulings, the civil rights group said.

Hundreds of Palestinians protesting in support of hunger striking prisoners run tear gas shot by Israeli troops in Bethlehem, April 17, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians protesting in support of hunger striking prisoners run tear gas shot by Israeli troops in Bethlehem, April 17, 2017. (Haidi Motola/Activestills.org)

Palestinians protesters block a major West Bank road used by both Palestinians and Israeli settlers in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, ‘Izbat Tabib, Qalqilya, West Bank, April 27, 2017. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians protesters block a major West Bank road used by both Palestinians and Israeli settlers in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, ‘Izbat Tabib, Qalqilya, West Bank, April 27, 2017. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Israeli authorities are also taking other punitive measures against the hunger-striking prisoners, ranging from solitary confinement to transfers between prisons to the confiscation of radios and salt from prisoners’ cells, Haaretz reported on Thursday.

Israel is currently holding some 6,500 Palestinians in its prisons, including over a dozen elected members of the Palestinian parliament, and hundreds of others who are being held in administrative detention. Israel uses administrative detention to imprison Palestinians without having to prove they committed a crime, without allowing them to defend themselves in court against sometimes secret accusations, and can be extended indefinitely. Some Palestinians have been held in administrative detention for years.

Hundreds of Palestinians rally in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners, Nablus, April 27, 2017. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians rally in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners, Nablus, April 27, 2017. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians throw stones and Israeli troops shoot tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at a protest in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, Hebron, April 27, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Palestinians throw stones and Israeli troops shoot tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at a protest in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, Hebron, April 27, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

While a significant number of Palestinians in Israeli prisons are accused or have been convicted of acts of violence, both against occupying soldiers and against civilians, many others are imprisoned for nonviolent, inherently political acts of resistance.

In the February 2015 trial of nonviolent organizer Abdullah Abu Rahme, for instance, Israeli military prosecutors sought a long prison sentence in order to deter what she called “ideological crimes” of political protest. Under Israeli military law, all protest by Palestinians is illegal in the West Bank. Israeli settlers living in the same territory, however, have the right to protest.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, the Israeli military has detained or arrested some 800,000 Palestinians since the start of the military occupation 50 years ago — around 40 percent of the Palestinian male population in the territories.

Most of the prisons in which Israel holds Palestinian prisoners are outside the occupied territories, in Israel proper, another practice the hunger strikers are demanding an end to. Transferring prisoners outside of an occupied territory is a violation of international law.

 

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    COMMENTS

      • Firentis

        You are right. It would be more democratic to respect their choice and allow hunger strikers to die. I am all for more democracy.

        Reply to Comment
        • Richard Lightbown

          It would certainly be nice to see true democracy replace the current apartheid system in Israel.

          Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            If the first step consists of letting these people starve themselves to death I’m happy to march with you.

            Reply to Comment
          • duh

            You want these people to die because they’re an obstacle to a colonial-settler demographic majority in “eretz Israel.” Zionism is a racist ideology that covers its genocidal nature in security jargon.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            I want them to die because they are terrorists.

            Reply to Comment
    1. Bruce Gould

      https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/9084

      Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel is urgently fighting an Israel Prison Service (IPS) practice which is preventing Palestinian prisoners who are participating in a hunger strike from meeting with their lawyers….In response to the hunger strike, as a punitive measure, the IPS is preventing hunger-striking prisoners from meeting with their lawyers. Attorneys who had scheduled authorized visits with their clients were surprised to discover that the IPS has cancelled their meetings for a variety of illegal pretexts relating to the prisoner’s participation in the hunger strike.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Could Guilad Shalit receive visit of his family or meet with his lawyers? I cannot understand how Israelis can support these terrorists.

      Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordin Halevy

          I confirm: The Arab terrorists claim that they cannot receive the visit of their family or meet with their lawyers. I confirm that Guilad Shalit (and the 2 or 3 other Israeli prisoners) did not receive the visit of his family or meet with his lawyer. Why do the leftist want a double standard? Another on this forum has written that Israel is an apartheid country. I was in the center of Jerusalem this morning and I saw a large number of elegant Arabs shopping and sitting at restaurants. Can an Israeli safely go to Ramallah? Double standard again.

          Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        Yeah sure – talk about the one Israeli Jew who was denied his rights, but never tortured or beaten. And he has been released for years, too.

        That’s not much of a smoke screen to hide the thousands of Palestinian prisoners who are currently denied their rights, mistreated, tortured and even murdered in your prisons. That includes prisoners as young as ten years old who are shackled and abused and deprived and humiliated in your kangaroo courts.

        Do ever think your priorities might be a bit warped?

        Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordin Halevy

          Of course according to the leftists they are in jail without reason. Everybody know that the prisons are full of innocent people….
          Did you meet these “innocent children” who have been tortured?
          Propaganda

          Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            “I was in the center of Jerusalem this morning and I saw a large number of elegant Arabs shopping and sitting at restaurants. Can an Israeli safely go to Ramallah?”

            Wow, that sounded really weird, so halevy of you. Elegant Arabs, I hoped you behaved yourself in Palestine. Why couldn’t you safely go to Ramallah? Oh right, because the IDF won’t allow it. Talk to them halevy you fraud.

            Reply to Comment
          • Itshak Gordin Halevy

            Carmen,
            “Palestine” is a Roman word. For us Jews, it is Eretz Israel. I could not go to Ramallah first because as a Jew it could be dangerous for me and then I will not feel comfortable to be in a Jewish occupied territory.

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            Question: “Can an Israeli safely go to Ramallah?”

            Answer: “It’s illegal; the IDF prohibits Israeli Jews from entering Palestinian cities in the West Bank.”

            You come back with batshit crazy response noting ‘you wouldn’t be comfortable’, blah, blah, blah, which doesn’t matter sfb because the iof won’t let you go if you want to anyway. What a foolish person you are.

            Reply to Comment
          • Itshak Gordin Halevy

            Of course, it is illegal. If the terrorists make Jews prisoners it will cost a lot to Israel to free them. On the other hand I do not think that a lot of Jews would enjoy to go to Ramalah which is under Arab occupation.

            Reply to Comment

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