An estimated 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners are on an open-ended hunger strike that began on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. The strike is a direct challenge to Israel’s regime of arrest and detention to try to break the Palestinian struggle for liberation.
Prisoners are specifically calling for a resumption of family visits and an end to the widespread, abusive practices of administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — and solitary confinement. Ahmad Saadat, Palestinian parliamentarian and leader of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is currently on hunger strike after more than three years of solitary confinement. Israel currently holds nearly 20 percent of the 132 Palestinian Legislative Council members in administrative detention.
Two prisoners, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, both being held without charge or trial, are on the brink of death after 68 days of hunger strike. Amnesty International has issued a call for urgent action to save Diab and Halahleh’s lives. Several other prisoners have also been on hunger strike for weeks and have been transferred to a prison clinic. Some, like Biab and Halahleh, have not been allowed to see independent doctors.
Today, Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel issued an urgent, joint statement regarding the grave condition of Thaer Halahleh, Bilal Diab and a third hunger striker, Hassan Safadi, whom they said are being subjected to “medical negligence” by Israeli authorities.
In contrast to the deafening silence from world media and governments, there has been widespread support for the mass hunger strike throughout historic Palestine and in exile. Nearly all Palestinian families living under Israeli occupation have been affected by Israel’s regime of arrest and detention and Palestinian political prisoners are celebrated as national heroes.