Palestinian Prisoners Still Striking Too

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[International Connections] [Middle East] [ULK Issue 27]
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Palestinian Prisoners Still Striking Too

When the 2011 food strike was peaking in California, MIM(Prisons) had mentioned similar tactics being used by Palestinians in Israeli prisons. And just as the struggle in U.$. prisons continues, so has the struggle of the Palestinians. A mass hunger strike lasted 28 days this spring, with some leaders having gone as long as 77 days without food, until an agreement was made on May 15.

"The written agreement contained five main provisions:
  1. The prisoners would end their hunger strike following the signing of the agreement;
  2. There will be an end to the use of long-term isolation of prisoners for "security" reasons, and the 19 prisoners will be moved out of isolation within 72 hours;
  3. Family visits for first-degree relatives to prisoners from the Gaza Strip and for families from the West Bank who have been denied visit based on vague "security reasons" will be reinstated within one month;
  4. The Israeli intelligence agency guarantees that there will be a committee formed to facilitate meetings between the IPS and prisoners in order to improve their daily conditions;
  5. There will be no new administrative detention orders or renewals of administrative detention orders for the 308 Palestinians currently in administrative detention, unless the secret files, upon which administrative detention is based, contains "very serious" information."(1)


While the concessions were a bit more gratifying than those that stopped the strike in California, Palestinians still have to ensure that Israeli actions followed their words, just as prisoners have been struggling to do in California. And sure enough the Israelis have not followed through, as leading hunger strikers have had their "administrative detentions" (which means indefinite imprisonment without charge or conviction) renewed. One striker has been on continuous hunger strike since April 12, and was reported to be in grave danger on July 5, after 85 days without eating. Others have also restarted their hunger strikes as the Israelis prove that they need another push to respect Palestinian humyn rights. [UPDATE: As of July 10, Mahmoud Sarsak was released from administrative detention, after a three month fast. Others continue their fasts, including Akram Rikhawi (90 days), Samer Al Barq (50 days) and Hassan Safadi (20 days).]

MIM(Prisons) says that U.$. prisons are just as illegitimate in their imprisonment of New Afrikan, First Nation, Boricua and Chicano peoples as Israel is in imprisoning the occupied Palestinians. The extreme use of imprisonment practiced by the settler states is connected to the importance that the settlers themselves put on the political goals of that imprisonment. Someone isn't put in long-term isolation because they're a kleptomaniac or a rapist, but they are put in long-term isolation because they represent and support the struggle of their people to be free of settler control.

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