At least 1,200 Palestinian political prisoners are still actively engaging in a hunger strike which was declared on April 17th and is now reaching its 4oth day. The intention of this dignity strike is to demand humane, live-able conditions within Israeli prisons, an end to all humiliation, harassment and abuse that occurs within them and that all human rights violations are addressed while the violators are held accountable.
The official list of demands are as follows:
- Install a public landline for all of the prisoners in all Israeli prisons and sections so that they can communicate with family members.
- Family visitation: A. End the International Committee of the Red Cross’ reduction of family visitation to once a month. Resume offering family visitation twice a month. B. Establish the opportunity for family visitation twice a month. C. Allow all first-degree and second-degree relatives of prisoners to visit them. D. Increase family visitation from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. E. Allow the prisoners to have a photograph with their families every three months. F. Build facilities for the comfort of visitors an families at the prisons’ gates. G. Allow children and grandchildren under the age of 16 to visit detainees.
- Medical file: A. Close the so-called Ramla prison hospital because it lacks basic medical equipment and medication. B. End the medical negligence. C. Allow specialist doctors to check prisoners. F. Release sick detainees, especially those with special needs and chronic illnesses. G. Exempt prisoners from paying for their medication.
- Respond to the demands and rights of Palestinian female prisoners, especially in regards to transfer conditions and physical barriers between detainees and family members during visitation.
- Transfer van (Bosta): A. Treat prisoners in a humane manner while transferring them in the Bosta. B. Return prisoners visiting clinics and courts to prisons; do not hold them at crossings. C. Prepare crossings for human use, and to provide meals for prisoners.
- Add TV channels that suit the needs of prisoners.
- Install air conditioners in prisons, especially Megiddo and Gilboa prisons.
- Re-install kitchens at prisons and place them under the supervision of Palestinian detainees
- Allow prisoners access to books, newspapers, clothes, foods, and special items for family visitation.
- End solitary confinement policy.
- End administrative detention policy.
- Restart the education program at the Hebrew Open University.
- Allow Palestinian prisoners to sit for Tawjihi [high school] matriculation exams in an official manner.
An open letter from a Palestinian prisoner was released on April 17th, declaring the hunger strike. An excerpt from the letter reads as follows,
“Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike.
Some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have decided to take part in this hunger strike, which begins today, the day we observe here as Prisoners’ Day. Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells.
Decades of experience have proved that Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong, by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their families and communities, using humiliating measures to compel subjugation. In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it.
Israel, the occupying power, has violated international law in multiple ways for nearly 70 years, and yet has been granted impunity for its actions. It has committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions against the Palestinian people; the prisoners, including men, women and children, are no exception.”
Read the full letter here.