Occupied Ramallah, 18 June 2013 - Individual hunger strikes of Palestinian political prisoners have escalated dramatically since the beginning of 2013, with over 33 prisoners engaging in hunger strikes for various reasons. This week, Addameer has confirmed that four new prisoners have started hunger strikes. Currently, there are 13 prisoners on hunger strike in the Occupation’s prisons, the highest number of individual hunger strikers in over a year.
Our latest update from our lawyers confirms that many hunger strikers have been moved to different hospitals, and their locations are currently unknown. Previously, several of the hunger strikers were held in isolation. Some of the prisoners are refusing lawyers visits due to the Israel Prison Service forcing them to keep their legs shackled during the lawyers visit. These policies serve to further isolate the prisoners on hunger strike and pressure them to end their strikes without gaining their rights.
Ayman Hamdan, Imad Batran, Ayman Tabeesh and Adel Hareebat are on hunger strike in protest of their administrative detention orders. Ayman Hamdan has been on hunger strike for 52 days. He is held in isolation in Ofer Prison. Imad Batran has been on hunger strike for 43 days and was transferred from isolation in Ofer Prison to Ramleh Hosptial and is currently in an unknown location. Ayman Tabeesh has been on hunger strike for 27 days in protest of the 4 month extension of his administrative detention order. He arrived to Ramleh Prison Hospital yesterday. Mohammad Tabeesh, who was sentenced to 18 months after serving a 2.5 month administrative detention order, started a solidarity strike with his brother Ayman 6 days ago. According to the Tabeesh family, Mohammad was subjected to severe beatings by the prison guards upon announcing his strike.
Adel Hareebat, who has been on hunger strike for 27 days, is protesting the extension of his administrative detention for an additional 6 months. Adel has served 10 years in prison, 3 of them under administrative detention. He was moved from isolation in Ofer Prison to Ramleh Prison Hospital due to his deteriorating health condition. He is suffering from lung cysts, continued fainting and dizziness. Initially, he refused treatment in the Ofer Prison Clinic due to the Israeli Prison Service insisting on shackling his hands and legs during the clinic visit. He is currently on a total hunger strike and only drinking water according to his family.
Twenty-two year old Ghassan Aliyan from Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem has been on hunger strike for 9 days in protest of his re-arrest. Ghassan was first arrested in 2007 at the age of 16. He served five years of a six year sentence before his sentence was commuted in the prisoners exchange and he was released in the second phase of the 2011 prisoner’s exchange. Because he was released in a prisoner exchange, Ghassan may be subjected to Article 186 of Military Order 1651, which allows for an Israeli military committee to restore the remainder of his previous sentence, regardless of the current reason of his arrest. Ayman Sharawna and Samer Issawi, who both endured long-term hunger strikes in 2012/2013 were both subjected to this law and faced serving over 20 years each. There are currently 13 prisoners who are held under Article 186 that can potentially serve the remainder of their sentences, which range from 1 to 30 years.
Husam Matir has been on hunger strike for 18 days to demand he be treated as a prisoner of war (POW). Husam, 25 years old, from Jerusalem, was arrested on 19 October 2007 and is serving a life sentence. Currently, Israel does not consider any Palestinian prisoners POWs. Classification as a POW for those who engaged in armed battle during the intifada is consistently a request during hunger strikes that has not been granted by the prison administration . According to the 3rd Geneva Convention, prisoners of war are granted special rights in regards to shelter, clothing, food, hygiene and medical care as well as treatment, such as not standing for headcount, or treatment as a criminal prisoner.
Iyad Abu Khadeer from Gaza is currently engaging in a hunger strike according to his family, due to the Occupation refusing to release him despite the expiration of his sentence. Iyad has served eight years in prison, and the prison administration claims that they will not release him due to his lack of identification papers that confirm he is from Gaza. He is currently held in Naqab Prison.
Five Jordanian prisoners, including Abdallah Barghouthi, have been on hunger strike for 48 days in protest of their denial of family visits and the condition of their detention. The Jordanian prisoners are Mohammad Rimawi, Hamza Othman, Munir Mar’ee, Alaa Hamad. All have been transferred to various hospitals. Hamza Othman, who Addameer’s lawyer was able to visit hours before his transfer to Suroka Hospital, has stopped taking vitamins, sugars and salts for five days and has a deteriorating health condition. He suffers from severe headaches, dizziness, dehydration, and decreased heart rate.
The increase in individual hunger strikes that do not yield any sustainable results or agreements with the prison administration speaks to the prison administration’s apathy towards the prisoner’s health and their rights. Addameer calls on the international diplomatic community, who has largely remained silent as the hunger strikes continue to escalate, to put effective pressure on the Occupation’s authorities to reach just agreements with the prisoners on hunger strike, release those who are held under administration without charge or trial, and comply with international law in regards to the prison conditions and the rights of the prisoners.