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Take Action: 12 hunger strikers risk death in Israeli jails

Take Action: 12 hunger strikers risk death in Israeli jails

Twelve Palestinian and Jordanian detainees are staging a hunger strike in Israeli prisons. The strikers are all that remains of a larger group that included at least 23 prisoners in early July.

Administrative detainee Ayman Hamdan, who has gone the longest without food, has refused food for over three months in protest of his detention without trial or charge. The remaining 11 prisoners’ respective strikes ranged between 30 and 90 days.

The five Jordanian prisoners have launched their hunger strike since early May demanding their release from Israeli prisons so that they can serve their sentences in Jordanian prisons according to the Wadi Araba agreement between Jordan and Israel.

Israeli Prison Services is regularly accused by Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights groups of inhumane treatment of prisoners.

According to human rights groups, the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) has sought to punish the hunger strikers using excessive solitary confinement, withholding medication, blocking prisoners’ access to lawyers, limiting family visits, and physically assaulting them while they are handcuffed to their beds, to name a few, in addition to threatening to be force-fed.

One of the hunger strikers, Alaa Hamad, told Addameer that he was “threatened [by IPS] to be force-fed if he does not end his strike.”

The Israeli Ministry of Justice is currently working on passing a bill that will allow the authorities force-feed prisoners on hunger strike “legally”.

The Hebrew Haaretz newspaper said in its Thursday edition (11/7/2013) : “This proposal comes in the wake of the increasing number of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.”

Force-feeding has been roundly condemned by groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

In response to criticism from groups like Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, IPS said that such groups do not “have the resources to conduct an objective assessment of medical practices in prisons and added that the medical treatment given to prisoners is both professional and responsible,” Times of Israel reported in April.

There are currently 4,979 Palestinians in Israeli lockup. A total of 238 are children, 44 of whom are under 16 years old. Another 156 are administrative detainees held on “secret evidence” without charge or trial.

Four of the present strikers are administrative detainees, and an additional four are serving a life sentence or greater.

The Israeli military defends its use of administrative detention as a necessary security measure for allegedly dangerous “security prisoners,” in violation to the fourth article of the Geneva Conventions.

In violation of the Geneva Conventions, which forbids an occupying power from removing detainees from the occupied territory, Israel frequently imprisons Palestinians from the West Bank inside Israel. In practice, this means that the families and lawyers of these detainees are rarely, if ever, are able to visit them.

All 12 of the current strikers are being held inside Israel, requiring their relatives to apply for entrance permits—scarcely granted—in order to visit them.

For many prisoners, hunger striking is the only chance to get the Israeli government to ease the harsh conditions of confinement or, in some cases, to release them.

By gaining international attention, hunger striking has helped cultivate global solidarity. When Khader Adnan pushed himself to the brink of death by refusing food for 66 days in early 2012, international organizations and activists across the globe pressured Israel until the former administrative detainee was released to his village in the occupied West Bank.

Inspired by Adnan and other successful strikers, including 44-day striker Hana Shalabi, a number of mass hunger strikes ensued.

Samer Issawi, a prisoner who was re-arrested after being released in the October 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, went over 270 days without food before Israel finally agreed to release him to his hometown of Jerusalem.

In April 2012, over 2,000 prisoners launched a mass strike that forced Israel to concede to several specific demands to improve detainees’ living conditions.

© Scoop Media

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