Palestinian Hunger Strikers Are Facing Harsh Retaliation Inside Israeli Prisons

It’s well over 100 PalestiniansMany children have been killed this year by Israeli military raids in the occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank. Reports of the deaths two teenagersAnd a 12-year-old boy during a military raid on the Jenin refugee camp that injured multiple people over the past weekend — and a deadly attack on an Israeli military checkpoint in apparent retaliation — is just the latest spasm of violence erupting from the Israeli security state’s occupation of Palestine.

Israel is not just targeting suspected “militants” and the youth who take the streets and throw rocks in protest when the army invades their neighborhoods. Civilians, bystanders, anti-settlement activists, journalists and Palestinian human rights attorneys have also been killed and arrested during protests and military raids in recent months and throughout Israel’s history. Moreover, hundreds of Palestinians are routinely jailed without charges or trial under a system of “administrative detention” that Israeli authorities routinely abuse to silence dissent, according the United NationsPalestinian activists.

At least 50 Palestinian prisoners and human rights activists are now undertaking an open-ended hunger strike in protest of being jailed under “administrative detention” without charges or a trial and in alleged violation of international law, and their supporters say they are facing life-threatening retaliation from Israeli prison officials. According to human rights organizations, around 20 strikers said this week that they would join the group of 30 Palestinians who launched a hunger strike September 25.

Among them is Salah Hamouri, a prominent French/Palestinian human rights lawyer and father of two from occupied East Jerusalem. Hamouri was held without charges for the last six months based on “secret evidence” unknown to him or the public, according to human rights groups. Supporters say Israeli prison officials are retaliating against the striking prisoners by “forcing them into solitary confinement” and confiscating salt they rely on for essential nutrients to survive.

Activists are now calling on the international community to take “urgent global action” pressuring Israel to meet the strikers’ demands and end its system of “arbitrarily” jailing and abusing Palestinians under vague orders issued by military courts, a practice devised under Israeli anti-terrorism laws that has its roots in era of British colonialism, accordingTo the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.

“It is a form of collective punishment and arbitrary detention,” said Milena Ansari, a Jerusalem-based advocate with Addameer, in an interview with Truthout. “I’m not saying this out of just being a Palestinian, but because Addameer has been working in Israeli military and civil courts for 30 years now, and we’ve seen how the prosecutors and the courts systematically rely on administrative detention as a coercive tool.”

Israeli military commanders consistently issue Palestinians administrative detention orders for “security reasons” based solely on “secret evidence,” according to Addameer. Once the order is issued, the detainee can be jailed for up to six months without even being informed of the evidence against them — and military courts can extend the detention period indefinitely. While detention orders are subject to a form of “judicial review” and an appeals process, Ansari said they are almost always upheld, and dozens of hunger strikers are boycotting their administrative court hearings in protest.

The 4,700 Palestinian “political prisoners”Currently, 800 people are being held in Israeli prisons. Ansari warns that this could be an undercount. Ansari stated that indefinite and arbitrary detention allows the Israeli military a form psychological warfare while taking protesters off the streets. This is part of a larger campaign to weaken Palestinian civil societies.

“The Israeli occupation also intentionally doesn’t tell the Palestinian detainees under administrative detention when they will be released,” Ansari said. “They know that their order, for example, might end at this specific date, but they don’t know if the order will be renewed at the same time … so there’s constant anxiety and instability, and this also has a chilling effect on their families.”

Indeed, the Israeli military recently outlawed Addameer and six other Palestinian civil society and human rights groups after raiding their offices on the occupied West Bank and accusing them of ties to “terrorist” groups, a charge all six organizations deny. Ansari said it’s now illegal to associate with the groups, which include the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and Defense for Children International-Palestine. The majority left-wing groups are supported by members of Congress and the European Union. rejected Israel’s “terrorism” claimsAccording to reports, this conclusion is based on weak evidence.

As activists face criminalization and scramble to support their comrades detained, the hollowing of Palestinian civil society leaves Palestinians without any political options while living under an apartheid regime. Palestine’s politics are largely dominated by two rival factions, Hamas on the Gaza strip and Fatah in the occupied West Bank. While both sides are said to be working together to resolve simmering conflicts they have been accused of jailing political opponents, and using torture and other forms of repression to stifle dissent.

Currently, the Israeli military continues to raid neighborhoods and refugee camps in occupied Palestine and arrests protesters. shooting to kill any young “stone-throwers” in the streets.

For incarcerated activists, intentionally starving to catch the world’s attention is now their best option, even if the cruelty is difficult to see. Last month, an Israeli court was established in Ramallah, West Bank. extended the detentionKhalil Awawdeh (40 years old) after he was subject to a historic hunger strike. brought him close to death. After the strike, Awawdeh resigned. more than 170 daysThe court made a deal for his release. delayed by up to a week despite protests from his family.

Ansari said there is no way to seek justice in the Israeli military’s administrative courts, so the hunger strikers must use their bodies to resist the “disciplinary powers of domination” within Israeli prisons. Ansari stated that the hunger strikers are not asking for their individual release. Instead, they are demanding the end to the system arbitrary administrative detention. Ansari stated that the hunger strikers and their attorneys began the boycott of Israeli military courts that issue administrative arrest orders to protest the increase in Palestinians being held without charge.

“So, they all decided to boycott Israeli military courts in order not to give legitimacy to these courts that, as I mentioned, play an integral role in facilitating what the Israeli occupation wants,” Ansari said, adding that the hunger strikers refused to attend their military detention hearings or engage in the system’s appeal process. “Their legitimate demand is to put an end to the policy of administrative detention, which targets former prisoners, ill and elderly Palestinians, female prisoners, and children as well.”