Thursday, October 6, 2011

Update on Palestinian hunger strike and acts of civil disobedience in the Israeli prisons


Ramallah 6 October 2011

The hunger strike and acts of civil disobedience originally announced on 27 September amongst Palestinian political prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine continues to gain momentum, with increasingly oppressive responses from the Israeli authorities.

The majority of the 400 PFLP members who are in prison, along with most prisoners held in southern Israel, have now joined the campaign and are either on open-ended hunger strike or on hunger strike 3 days weeks and participating in other acts of civil disobedience.
In response, the Israeli prison authorities have been transferring hunger strikers to different prisons, and putting them in isolation. Hunger strikers have also been denied salt water, their only source of nourishment. At Ofer prison, 12 hunger strikers have been placed in 2 isolation cells that are only meant to hold 4 people in each, and they have been beaten and forced to walk around the prison compound in the middle of the night in order to exhaust them. At Ashkelon prison, two cells from one of the sections housing long-term prisoners were raided and non-lethal weapons used on the hunger strikers, including Akram Mansour, who has been in prison since 1979 and is suffering from a benign brain tumor.
Lawyer visits to the hunger strikers continue to be difficult. Despite being given permission to visit by the Israeli authorities, lawyers have reported arriving at the prisons and then being turned away due to a ‘situation of emergency’ being announced by the Israeli Prison Service. However, today Addameer lawyer Mahmoud Hassan was able to visit Ahmad Sa’adat – Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council - and Jamal Abu Hija, who are both held at Nafha prison and have both been in long term isolation, since 2009 and 2004 respectively. They reported that they had lost 5 kg since the hunger strike, and were now being denied cigarettes and salt. All electronic items have also been confiscated from their cell, and all that remains are two mattresses and blankets, without pillows. The prison authorities have fined Ahmad Sa’adat 228 shekels as punishment for his hunger strike, and extended his ban on family visits which had been imposed ever since he was in isolation.
Addameer’s lawyers will continue their efforts to visit the hunger strikers and any further information will be published as soon as it is available.