On 17 August 2004, Adalah submitted a pre-petition to the Attorney General’s Office demanding that they issue an order to the authorities of the Israeli prisons in which political prisoners have opened hunger strikes, obligating them to return fluids and salt to the prisoners’ cells. After the announcement of the hunger strike, the prisons’ authorities entered the prisoners’ cells and removed all fluids, such as milk and fruit juice, and salt. The aim of these confiscations was to exert pressure upon the prisoners to abort their strike.
1,500 political prisoners began hunger strikes on 15 August 2004. The number of hunger-striking political prisoners reached 2,200 prisoners on 18 August 2004. The prisoners’ strike is a protest against their poor daily living conditions in prison, their continuing maltreatment, and the denial of their most basic human rights. Significantly, the political prisoners now participating in the hunger strike are refusing only food, and not fluids.
Adalah attorney Abeer Baker claimed in the pre-petition that the prisons’ authorities are arguing on the one hand that they are concerned about stopping the hunger strike out of fear for the prisoners’ lives and health, and yet, on the other hand, have confiscated fluids and salt from their cells, which is causing great damage to and accelerating the deterioration of the health of the hunger-striking prisoners.
Attorney Baker added that the confiscation of fluids and salt is an illegal act, which violates prisoners’ constitutional rights, including the rights to life, dignity, personal liberty and bodily integrity.
Adalah argued in the pre-petition that the purpose of confiscating the fluids and salt was clear: to pressurize the prisoners into calling off their strike. Adalah further maintained that the employment of illegitimate means to exert pressure on the prisoners is recognized by the international community as an illegal act. For instance, the Declaration of Tokyo – 1975, prohibits the forcing of prisoners to eat and the breaking of their will to hunger strike, as long as their abstention from food poses is no immediate danger to their lives.
After the pre-petition was filed, the Attorney General’s Office contacted the prisons’ authorities, requesting their prompt response. If the prisons’ authorities fail to reply to the pre-petition, Adalah will approach the Supreme Court of Israel.