Hundreds of Palestinians who are currently being held in Israeli prisons will go on an open-ended hunger strike, beginning Monday 17 April, to mark Palestinian Prisoner’s Day.
The strike is being led by imprisoned leader of the Fatah movement Marwan Barghouti, hailed by some as “the Palestinian Mandela”, but will involve Palestinians from across the political spectrum and those who are politically non-affiliated.
This hunger strike forms an integral part of the Palestinian strategy of nonviolent resistance. The demands of the strike include allowing Palestinians to receive proper medical attention, ending the ban on family visits, allowing female prisoners to be treated appropriately, ending solitary confinement and ending administrative detention.
The strike comes in the wake of reports of increases in torture and other human rights abuses against Palestinians at the hands of Israeli authorities. A 2016 report by Israeli human rights organisations HaMoked and B’Tselem described the typical treatment of Palestinian prisoners as “degrading”, “inhuman” and “tantamount to torture”. A Defense for Children International – Palestine report found that of the Palestinian children in Israeli detention, 97% had no lawyer or family member present during interrogation, 75.5% were subject to physical abuse, 72.5% were denied adequate food and water, and 69.7% were strip searched.
There are currently approximately 7,000 Palestinians being detained in Israeli prisons, including over 300 children, 8 elected Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and 600 administrative detainees (who are held indefinitely, without charge or trial).
For the participants, this hunger strike represents the last hope of achieving justice and human rights for the Palestinian people, for which they are willing to starve for.