The people of Gaza are taking to the streets daily in support of 100 hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Even the Prime Minister. They are all demanding an end to administrative detention, and the horrendous conditions the prisoners are subjected to.
The Juma prayer in Jabalia today was no exception. At Al Khulafa mosque over a thousand locals were joined by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders and ex-prisoners to pray for and demand their release.
The sermon emphasised the deceptions practised by the Israeli occupation, amongst which is breaking their word to release the fourth batch of prisoners during recent peace negotiations. It warned that Palestinians must remain ever-vigilant, and be ready at any time to defend themselves. Describing some of the horrific practices the prisoners are subjected to in Israeli jails, it noted the sacrifices they have made for Palestine, and the obligation all Palestinians have to stand by them.
The message did not fall on deaf ears. After prayers, hundreds marched through the narrow Jabalia streets to a make-shift stage, carrying banners and photos of the prisoners.
Again, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was in their midst.
At the stage, ex-prisoner Abdulrahman Shadid gave an impassioned speech calling on all sectors of Palestinian society to stand with the prisoners, and to take part in all activities to support them.
“We also need to form a legal network to fight for their rights, and to defend them,” he said.
Shadid also called on the international community, particularly the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League, to take real action to uphold the prisoners’ rights, and to expose the crimes being perpetrated against them by Israel.
“The international media must also play its part,” he added.
“They must expose the illegal practices, the terrible suffering of Palestinian detainees, and let the world know about their plight.”
In the two weeks since the prisoners began their hunger strike in Israeli prisons throughout the country, they have been subjected to unplanned transfers, raids on their cells, solitary confinement, denial of family and lawyer visits, and with-holding of the salt necessary to maintain metabolic balance.