Palestine Liberation Organization
Prisoners’ families outside the ICRC, Gaza City 2014 (Julie Webb-Pullman)
The Palestinian Prisoners Movement in Brief
The struggle of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has, for several decades, been a major element of the Palestinian national struggle against the brutality of the Israeli military occupation. Since Israel occupied the Palestinian territory in 1967, a staggering 800,000 Palestinians have been arrested and incarcerated (and a total of 1 million since 1948).
At this moment in time, there are approximately 6,500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including 57 women, 300 minors (under the age of 18), and 500 administrative detainees. (Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on “secret information” without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.) These numbers also include 13 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, three of whom -Samira Halaykah, Mohammad Al-Til and Ibrahim Dahbour- were arrested as recently as March 2017.
Hunger Strike for Justice
The open hunger strike is one of the only forms of passive resistance and peaceful protest available to Palestinian prisoners against the injustice and oppression of the Israeli military regime. Inspired by the righteousness of their cause, Palestinian prisoners continue to fight for their human rights and the realization of their just demands, which are enshrined in international legislation and conventions, (and listed below).
Since 1967, Palestinians have held 23 coordinated mass hunger strikes, the latest of which took place in 2014 and lasted 63 days. In addition, dozens of hunger strikes have been held by individual prisoners, including Fouad Bisharat, Ra’ed Mteir, Mohammad Al-Qeeq, Jamal Abu Leil, among others. Palestinian prisoners launch hunger strikes as a means to exercise their legal right to protest the punitive measures of the Israeli military authorities and draconian policies of prison administrations.
This open hunger strike is but one step on the long road towards freedom and human dignity. It is a significant and effective means to confront discriminatory laws enacted by the Israeli parliament (Knesset) and the collusion of the unjust Israeli judiciary and military courts that function as arms of the Israeli military authorities.
The open hunger strike of 2017 is being led and engineered by Marwan Al-Barghouti (an imprisoned Member of the Fatah Central Committee), and joined by hundreds of Palestinian detainees, including Kareem Younis and Diya Al-Agha (two of the most prominent leaders of the Palestinian Prisoners’ movement). Read more »