As many as 20 Palestinian detainees at the Negev prison began a hunger strike on July 30, demanding freedom for administrative detainees, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) prison branch said. The detainees joined eight others who began similar protests over the past two months.
A statement issued by the striking detainees said the Israeli prison administration would be responsible for the health and lives of the strikers. It condemned the prison authorities for failing to arrive at a settlement with three of the striking prisoners – Huzaifa Halabiya, Mohammed Abu Aker and Mustafa al-Hassanat.
Israeli authorities, in response, raided sections of the prison where PFLP-affiliated detainees are lodged. Many of the prisoners were shifted to other sections and they were threatened with transfer to other prisons if they continued with their strike.
Three of the eight Palestinian detainees began their hunger strike on July 1. Several others began their hunger strike in June. Palestinian administrative detainees in other prisons are also on strike. On June 16 and 18, Ja’far Izz Al-Din, 48, and Ihsan Othman, 21, from the Megiddo prison began hunger strikes with the same demand. Currently, around 500 administrative detainees are lodged in Israeli prisons.
Lawyer sentenced to 13 years
An Israeli military court sentenced the lawyer of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s prisoners’ committee to a jail term of 13 years and six months on July 27. Tareq Barghouth was convicted on charges of firing at Israeli settlers. His lawyer said that he had done so due to the distress he felt at the ill-treatment of Palestinians by Israelis. Barghouth is a prominent lawyer who has defended a number of Palestinian detainees.
Tareq Barghouth was arrested on February 27 and subjected to harsh interrogation. Israeli authorities also arrested his wife and sister in order to pressurize Barghouth to confess. The two women were subsequently released. Barghouth is currently being held in the Nafha prison in southern Israel. According to the Israeli military, he was convicted as part of a plea bargain.
The Israeli lawyer representing Barghouth, Leah Tsemel, told the press, “He said in his statement that he opened fire after feeling that Palestinians were being treated very unjustly by Israeli courts.” She also said that Barghouth was distraught at having to accompany bereaved Palestinians to Israeli authorities to collect the bodies of loved ones and relatives killed by security forces.
“Once, Barghouth fired from a distance at a settlers’ bus to make them understand that they can never feel secure in the occupied territories,” Tsemel said.