UPDATE: New details released on agreement to suspend Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike Read here
May 26, 2017 — After 40 days of hunger strike, Palestinian prisoners have suspended their hunger strike and announced that they have achieved victory in their humanitarian demands, following 20 hours of negotiations between the strikers’ leadership and Israeli occupation prison administration.
All salutes to the courageous, struggling Palestinian prisoners, on the front lines of the Palestinian struggle for liberation! Their victories and their struggles are those of the Palestinian people and of all people seeking justice and liberation.
And salutes to all of those around the world who have been part of the prisoners’ struggle and Palestinian victory for the past 40 days.
Victory, Towards Liberation: Salute to the Palestinian Prisoners and the Struggle for Freedom
May 27, 2017— On the occasion of the victory of the Strike of Freedom and Dignity, the valiant battle of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails, confronting the occupier with their bodies and their lives, we salute the Palestinian prisoners on achieving their victory, not only for themselves and their families, but for the entire Palestinian people and global movement for justice and liberation.
….While further information about the agreement has not yet been released, news indicates that further achievements of the strike also center on the issue of family visits, including access to more relatives including grandparents and grandchildren; improved communication, especially between imprisoned children and women and their families, and the installation of public telephones; easing security prohibitions and the frequent bans on family visit imposed by the Israeli prison administration. Al-Mayadeen TV reported further aspects of the agreement:
- periodic entry of private external physicians to examine ill prisoners
- allowing visits from family members of the “second class,” including grandparents and grandchildren
- increasing the amount prisoners may have in their canteen (prison store, where nearly all necessities of life must be purchased from and Israeli corporation) accounts
- adding 3 satellite channels to the prisoners’ TV access
- transferring the Ramla prison hospital to the old section which includes several rooms and a recreation area
- installation of a public telephone for women prisoners, child prisoners and ill prisoners to communicate on a daily basis with their family members
- family visits to be increased to 60 minutes from 45 minutes
- photographs with parents once annually
- increasing the quantities of meat, vegetables and fruits for prisoners
- allowing the introduction of clothing such as trousers and bags
- providing each prisoner with 1 liter olive oil, 1 kilo coffee, 1/2 kilo baklava and 1/2 kilo za’atar.
…. Throughout the strike, the prisoners faced harsh repression. They were denied legal visits, family visits, beset by repressive raids, their belongings confiscated – even the salt that they relied on with water to preserve their life and health. Through it all, their steadfastness was an example of commitment and dedication to carry through their struggle. They were not alone in their steadfastness. The mothers and the families of the prisoners filled the tents of solidarity and support in every city, town, village and refugee camp in Palestine. Many prisoners’ mothers launched their own hunger strikes; they struggled, suffered, resisted and led alongside their children. Martyrs fell on the streets of Palestine as they protested and struggled for the liberation of their beloved prisoners at the hands of the occupation forces.
The Palestinian prisoners made clear through the Strike of Dignity and Freedom the power of Palestinian unity. The imprisoned leadership of all Palestinian trends stood together to confront the occupier, while that unity was felt in struggle, on the streets and inside prison walls – and the effects of that unity have been felt in the achievement of the prisoners’ victory.
The hunger strikers demanded that the Israeli occupation speak with their chosen leadership and defeated all attempts to circumvent the prisoners’ direction, leadership and choices.
More than that, however, they demonstrated once again that the true, respected leadership of the Palestinian national liberation movement itself is found in the Palestinian prisoners’ movement. The Palestinian prisoners’ movement is at the core of the liberation struggle of the Palestinian people as a whole; far from a side issue of the movement, it represents the Palestinian people and their resistance. Read full article here
After 40 days, Palestinians suspend mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons
May 27, 2017 BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons suspended a 40-day mass hunger strike during dawn hours on Saturday, after reaching an agreement with the Israel Prison Service (IPS) that reinstated the prisoners’ family visitation sessions to two times per month, according to initial information from Palestinian leadership and an IPS spokesperson.
The agreements came on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, for which some hunger strikers had vowed to fast and forgo the salt and water mixture being consumed by the prisoners from dawn until sunset — the only source of nutrients the hunger strikers were consuming.
Palestinian leaders applauded the prisoners’ “victory” on Saturday, saying that the agreement represented an “important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.”
However, increasing family visits was but one of a number of demands hunger-striking prisoners were calling for — including the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial.
….A Palestinian source knowledgeable about negotiations elaborated to Ma’an later Saturday afternoon that the talks started Friday at 9 a.m. at Ashkelon prison, initially in the absence of Marwan Barghouthi. …
However, the sources said that negotiations did not make progress until IPS agreed to bring in Marwan Barghouthi, who had been held in a solitary confinement cell in Jalama prison since the first day of the strike.The sources said that after Barghouthi’s arrival, IPS then “immediately agreed to some of the prisoners’ demands” and promised to respond positively to them.
At 4:20 a.m. Saturday, a phone call was made between the imprisoned leaders of the hunger strike and officials from the PA and the Fatah movement outside of Israeli prisons, and after discussions, Marwan Barghouthi agreed to end hunger strike, the sources said.
The IPS spokesperson confirmed to Ma’an that Barghouthi was involved in the agreements that ended the hunger strike, but said that IPS was not considering the talks “negotiations,” as they only reinstated a previous policy and did not provide any new concessions to the prisoners.
The IPS spokesperson told Ma’an that some 834 prisoners remained on strike to the 40th day, and that 18 prisoners who remained hospitalized would be returned to Israeli prison following the improvement of their health conditions.
….A spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Xavier Abu Eid released a statement Saturday by the “Free Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners’ international campaign,” saying that the hunger strike had “prevailed.”
“This is an important step towards full respect of the rights of Palestinian prisoners under international law. It is also an indication of the reality of the Israeli occupation which has left no option to Palestinian prisoners but to starve themselves to achieve basic rights they are entitled to under international law,” the statement read.
As the statement pointed out, the hunger strike was one of the longest strikes in Palestinian history and included a wide participation of Palestinian prisoners from across political factions. “The epic resilience and determination of the hunger strikers and their refusal to end their hunger strike despite the repression and very harsh conditions they endured allowed for their will to prevail over the will of the jailer.”
Israeli forces had attempted to break the hunger strike through various punitive measures — with the measures being repeatedly condemned by human rights organizations — including putting hunger strikers in solitary confinement, “inciting” against the hunger strikers and their leaders — most notably Barghouthi, and threatening to force feed the hunger strikers, the statement highlighted.
Scores of Palestinian prisoners were also transferred to Israeli hospitals during the hunger strike, with reports emerging that prisoners were vomiting blood and fainting. Palestinian leaders had feared possible deaths among the hunger strikers if their demands were not met.
The statement went on to thank all those who stood in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners, particularly former political prisoners in South Africa, Ireland, and Argentina. “The Palestinian people are a nation held captive, and the Palestinian prisoners are the reflection of this painful reality,” the statement read.
Spokesperson for the PA Youssef al-Mahmoud also congratulated the hunger strikers on “achieving their demands.”
“Our heroic prisoners achieved a new victory in their legendary resistance,” he said, adding that the government would continue its efforts to “guarantee that all Palestinian prisoners are freed without exceptions or conditions.”
He also called for an end to political divisions in Palestine and to work on regaining national unity to support Palestinians.
Meanwhile, member of Fatah’s central committee Jamal Muheisin and head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe held a press conference at Yasser Arafat square in Ramallah to announce the “victory” of the hunger strike.
The national committee formed to support the hunger strike also released a statement saying that the hunger strikers had achieved a “legendary triumph forcing the occupation government to negotiate with the leaders of the hunger strike and Marwan Barghouthi after having refused to negotiate for 40 days.”
The statement highlighted that the “epic hunger strike” brought back unity between Palestinians in Israeli prisons and revived the spirit of national solidarity, which has succeeded in “thwarting the occupation’s plots.”
The statement added that more information regarding the details of the agreement between IPS officials and the hunger strikers would be released later on Saturday.
Palestinians imprisoned by Israel have underwent numerous hunger strikes since the Israeli army occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967, with several hunger strikers being killed during strikes owing to Israeli policies of force-feeding the prisoners.
Their demands have ranged from insisting on better quality prison food to ending torture in Israeli prisons.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of April, most of whom are being held inside the Israeli territory in contravention to international law which forbids holding Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza outside the occupied territory.
While Israeli authorities label Palestinians as “security prisoners,” activists and rights groups have long considered Palestinians held in Israeli custody as political prisoners, and have routinely condemned Israel’s use of prison as a means of dismembering Palestinian political and social life in the occupied territory.
Addameer has reported that 40 percent of the male Palestinian population has been detained by Israeli authorities at some point in their lives.
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