Gaza: Protest in Support of Hunger Striking Prisoners Moves
Protest Tent in Support of Hunger Striking Prisoners Relocates in Gaza City
May 2, 2012
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Prisoners' Protest Tent at Al Jundy
On 29 April, the twelfth day of the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike against illegal conditions and treatment in Israeli detention, all Gazan factions gathered in Al Jundy, the Square of the Unknown Soldier in Gaza City, to continue their protest.
The Prisoners’ Solidarity Tent had moved to Al Jundy from outside the Centre of the International Red Cross (ICRC) the day before, to accommodate the growing crowds joining the protest by the day. The Solidarity Tent will remain in Al Jundy until the end of the strike.
The prisoners’ demands include an end to administrative detention, an unpalatable left-over from British colonial rule, whereby civilians are detained and held under military, rather than civilian, jurisdiction, are not formally charged, and are not given access to the evidence against them - if any actually exists.
There are also several demands for the observance by Israel of the minimal international rules and human rights for prisoners, such as the use of solitary confinement, strip-searches (including of visiting family members such as children), cell searches in the middle of the night, and the denial of family visits, especially for Gaza prisoners, some of whom have not seen their families for over ten years.
Increasing number of the almost 5,000 Palestinians behind bars in Israeli jails are joining the hunger strike every day. The 1,400 who began on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ day, have now been joined by hundreds more, including at least six women prisoners.
Israeli authorities are responding with increasing repression - three of the women have been put into solitary confinement for joining the strike, and at Ishell prison, Israeli authorities attacked hunger striking prisoners, according to a note smuggled out. Lawyers, families, and the ICRC have been banned from visiting hunger-striking prisoners.
An ex-prisoner released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in October 2011, Mazen Abu Jarad, describes the conditions in Israeli jails thus why he supports the hunger-strikers, and what the international community can do to help.