Fifteen hundred Palestinian political prisoners launched a hunger strike on April 17, ongoing as of this writing. They are protesting abominable conditions in Israel’s privately run prisons.
Their demands include decent medical treatment; an end to solitary confinement and Israel’s policy of renewable detention without trial; relocation to facilities in the Palestinian territories; reinstatement of bimonthly visitation for inmates; and public telephones in prison wards. Most arrestees are held inside Israel, a violation of the Geneva Conventions, making it nearly impossible for families in the occupied territories to visit.
It has been 69 years since the mass expulsion of Palestinians began and 50 years since Israel illegally occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel has imprisoned more than 800,000 Palestinians, including children. This number includes 40 percent of all men in the occupied territories. Courts give virtual impunity to Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians while criminalizing Palestinians for their very existence.
Strikers hold fast despite Israeli threats to force-feed them. Mass demonstrations in the West Bank and across northern Africa disprove government claims that the strike lacks support.
These freedom fighters deserve unstinting international support. End the occupation! End U.S. aid to Israel!
Note: The prisoners suspended their 40-day hunger strike on May 27 after winning an agreement restoring their right to two visits per month.