Over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike against increased violence by Israeli prison authorities 

Nine Palestinian administrative detainees are on a separate indefinite hunger strike to demand their release and better treatment of fellow prisoners

August 18, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike (2)
(Photo: via Twitter)

1,000 Palestinian prisoners in different Israeli jails started an indefinite hunger strike on Thursday, August 17, evening to protest the violent raids being conducted by the occupation authorities in Naqab and several other prisons in the last couple of days. The action was confirmed by the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) and Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network in statements

Large-scale rallies were called across the occupied territories and elsewhere on Friday in solidarity with the striking prisoners. 

Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s Naqab prison had declared a state of emergency on Sunday following violent raids by the authorities in one of its sections, section 26. According to al-Mayadeen, Israeli authorities repeated the raid in Naqab’s sections 3 and 4 on Thursday and then forcefully transferred over 75 prisoners to an unknown location.  

All 75 prisoners transferred from Naqab were later found in Nafha prison where they issued a joint statement announcing their participation in the mass hunger strike. 

Naqab is the largest Israeli prison with over 1,400 Palestinian prisoners.   

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs warned the Israeli authorities about the safety of the prisoners transferred after they were “brutally assaulted” during the raid, al-Mayadeen reported.    

Meanwhile, an indefinite hunger strike by Palestinian detainees which began in the first week of August is still continuing. One of the detainees, Kayed Fusfus, has completed more than 15 days on hunger strike

Under pressure from protests across historic Palestine and due to the deteriorating health of some of the detainees on strike, Israeli authorities were forced to sign an agreement with five out of the 14 detainees who had joined the strike at different points of time for their release. Nine of them continued their strike as of Thursday.  

There are over 5,000 Palestinians inside different Israeli prisons currently. Around 1,200 of these are administrative detainees whom Israel can keep in prison for indefinite periods without any charge or trial.   

Israeli atrocities against prisoners increase under extremist Ben-Gvir

According to the PPS statement, one of the reasons for the Palestinian prisoners’ strike is extremist leader Itamar Ben-Gvir who is Israel’s national security minister. Ben-Gvir has initiated various policy measures against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails depriving them of basic rights and has made several provocative statements against them.

According to the reports, Ben-Gvir had visited Naqab prison a couple of days ago and had asked the authorities to impose additional restrictions on the prisoners. He visited another prison in Ofer in the occupied West Bank on Thursday and was seen harassing Palestinian prisoners on video. 

Some of the restrictions imposed on Palestinian prisoners since Ben-Gvir became minister in December last year include a ban on visits by Israeli Members of Knesset (MKs) to Palestinian prisoners, termination of the option of early release orders of Palestinian administrative detainees, no supply of fresh bread to detainees, and restrictions on shower times and other amenities. 

Ben-Gvir, extending the Israeli state’s policy of equating the Palestinian resistance movement with terrorism, has thus termed all Palestinian prisoners “terrorists” and expressed his will to impose more severe restrictions on them. He had also demanded the death penalty for Palestinians involved in the killing of Israelis.