The hunger strike by Palestinian youth in the German Colony in Haifa is expanding. Hunger striker Lana Haskeyeh told me this evening that two more people joined the strike. “Tonight Palestinians from all over Palestine will come to Haifa for a large demonstration to support the demands of the prisoners,” says Lana. She sounds determined to continue the actions in Haifa and push the demands of the prisoners. The group in Haifa has opened the “Hungry for Freedom” page on Facebook to inform the public about the events.
More prisoners join the hunger strike
Already fifteen days ago, Palestinian prisoners launched the campaign of civil disobedience. Palestinian prisoner support organization Addameer reports that hundreds of prisoners have joined the campaign by going on either open-ended or 3 day hunger strike. The entire prisoner population in the prisons of Gilboa (336) Nafha (511), Rimon (716), Eshel (262) and Ashkelon (142) have reportedly declared an open ended hunger strike on 10 and 11 October. Four women are on hunger strike at Damon prison. More prisoners are expected to join the coming days, according to Addameer.
The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) tries to prevent visits to prisoners by Addameer’s lawyers by declaring a ‘situation of emergency’ in the prisons. At Megiddo prison one lawyer was not allowed to visit two prisoners as “they had refused to stand up for the roll call and are too weak to see him,” writes Addameer in today’s update on the situation.
In addition, the hunger strikers from Gilboa call on international human rights activists, groups and organizations to support their struggle by writing to the Israeli Prison Service to protest against the increasingly punitive measures being taken against them. Addameer plans to publish letters that can be used in Hebrew and English on its website. The letters will include the demands that the IPS immediately desist from the use of isolation, from punishment of the hunger strikers by excessive fines, and from denying the hunger strikers salt.
BNC supports Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) released a statement today to support the demands of the Palestinian political prisoners in their hunger strike. The BNC calls for stepping up the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to end Israeli impunity. The BNC writes:
For the fifteenth day in a row, our brave political prisoners continue their open-ended hunger strike in Israeli prisons, challenging the walls of silence and international complicity, and refusing indignation and the persistent violations of their rights.
While today marks the historic UN day of solidarity with South African political prisoners, the UN, under US hegemony, has turned its back on the plight of Palestinian political prisoners, including hundreds of child prisoners, languishing under severe hardships in Israel’s notoriously inhumane prisons. This put the moral burden on international civil society to act, by applying effective pressure on Israel to release all Palestinian and Arab political prisoners and to respect their internationally recognized rights in the meanwhile.
The BNC, the largest Palestinian civil society coalition representing the overwhelming majority of unions, coalitions and political forces, fully supports the hunger strike called for by Palestinian prisoners and endorses their legitimate demands for:
1. Ending the policy of solitary confinement
2. Ending the ban on college education for prisoners
3. Ending the policy of collective punishment, including the denial of visits, and imposing financial penalties on prisoners
4. Ending the policy of provocative incursions and invasions of prisoners’ cells
5. Stopping the policy of shackling the hands and legs of prisoners during visits by family members and lawyers
6. Improving the health conditions of hundreds of sick and injured prisoners and providing them with the needed treatments
7. Allowing books, newspapers and clothes to enter prisons
8. Allowing the broadcast of satellite TV channels that have been banned by Israeli Prison Service (IPS)
9. Ending the policy of restricting visits to 30 minutes every month, and the arbitrary denial of visits
To support the hunger strike, the BNC calls for intensifying the global BDS campaign against Israel as the most effective way to pressure Israel until it abides by the Palestinian people’s rights in full. The BNC suggests to intensify the boycott of Israeli academic institutions in response to the denial of Palestinian prisoners’ basic right to education.
Furthermore, to step up BDS campaigns targeting Israeli and international companies that have contracts with the IPS or other authorities to provide the large sector of prisons, detention facilities and the farcical Israeli court system. (For example, The Electronic Intifada reported about the role of British Danish security firm G4S.)
Lastly, the BNC suggest to boycott the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) and expell it from the World Medical Association (WMA) as a result of the systematic collusion of its members with torture. Recently, the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) published an informative article on “The campaign about doctors and torture in Israel.”
The BNC ends its statement with:
The Palestinian prisoners’ movement has always been at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and self determination. As the hunger of Palestinian prisoners bangs the walls of their prison cells, we in turn to prod the conscience of international civil society to hold Israel accountable to international law by intensifying BDS campaigns against it.