Palestinians resist Israeli jailers with collective hunger strike

People hold posters, banners and flags

Palestinians protest to show their solidarity with prisoner Nasser Abu Hamid in front of the Red Cross office in Gaza City on 11 October.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Dozens of Palestinians are in their third week of a hunger strike in protest of their arbitrary detention by Israel.

Hundreds more Palestinian prisoners returned their meals on Wednesday in solidarity with the strike.

Israel has recently intensified the use of administrative detention, in which Palestinians are held without charge or trial while unable to see or challenge the evidence against them.

Such orders are typically issued for six-month periods but can be renewed indefinitely. This Israeli practice is a direct continuation of British colonial rule.

Israel is currently imprisoning 780 Palestinians under such orders, including four children. Those targeted include human rights defenders, students, politicians and former prisoners.

Cruel and arbitrary

In fact, the majority of Palestinians who launched the hunger strike are former prisoners. Dozens of other prisoners have joined them in recent days.

One case in particular illustrates the cruel and arbitrary nature of this practice.

Asem Al-Kaabi was released in April 2021 after spending 18 years in Israeli prison. Pictures of his reunion with his fiancée were circulated by local media upon his release.

Approximately 16 months later, Israel detained him again without charging or trying him.

Al-Kaabi and 29 of his comrades have been refusing food from their Israeli jailers since 25 September.

One of the hunger strikers is French-Palestinian human rights activist Salah Hammouri.

A Jerusalem native, Hammouri has spent most of his life in the city, but Israel has sought to expel him to France. Israeli authorities even issued a decision to revoke his residency over “breach of allegiance” to the state of Israel.

Hammouri is a lawyer with prisoners’ rights group Addameer, one of six organizations Israel designated as “terrorist” last year.

Since he was a teenager, Hammouri has spent years in Israeli jails. Israel again detained him in March and has been renewing his administrative detention orders since.

Hammouri’s longest consecutive period in prison was six years, between 2005 and 2011 until he was released as part of a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas.

Macron raises issue

The spokesperson for the French foreign ministry said President Emmanuel Macron raised Hammouri’s current detention with Prime Minister Yair Lapid during his August visit to France.

Nearly 300 international human rights and civil society organizations this week urged the release of Palestinian administrative detainees.

The groups called on the so-called international community, including the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention “to pressure the occupation and apartheid entity to end the file of administrative detention and stop its use against Palestinians.”




"Administrative detention" as practiced by Israel constitutes one of the apartheid state's most severe violations of human rights. A person is arrested, interrogated and jailed without any criminal charge. The accused is thus not entitled to see the evidence-if any- that led to this action. No information is afforded to legal counsel. It's not even possible to refer to "the defendant" in the case, since there are no charges and there is no case as such. Further to this, the state has arrogated to itself the power to renew the victim's detention order an infinite number of times, producing a virtually permanent sentence of confinement without any avenue of appeal. One is hard pressed to imagine a more toxic insult to the concept of justice than this perversion of the law visited on Palestinian men, women and children.

The state of Israel must be exposed at every turn as the vile, racist, thieving, murderous regime we know it to be. And our heartfelt support must go out to the prisoners and their families who endure this tyranny.

Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.