What would move Israeli Internal security minister
Tzachi Hanegbi to say all Palestinian prisoners can “starve to death”?
Why would prisoners’ hunger strike over daily life demands, such as
family visits, medical care, and better food be received as
“endangering the security of Israel”?

Why would 8000 prisoners head to the most painful option, an open-ended
hunger strike? what is the motive? Is it human or political?

To start with, none of the demands raised is impossible to address or
find a solution to that addresses the needs and concerns of both sides.

All of the demands related to living conditions, food, healthcare, and
the issue of overcrowdness are presumably prisoners’ rights approved as
well by Israeli courts. All are possible to gradually solve based on
assessment of needs and available resources.

Issues related to prisoners’ ability to communicate with the outside
world, including installing public phones, allowing more family visits
and enhancing conditions in visiting rooms, and prisoners’ strip and
room searches are traditionally tied with Israeli security concerns.

Israeli concerns are mainly focused on passing information to prisoners
or from them to other prisons or to the outside world that could be
characterized as a security hazard.

It is known that political prisoners, or at least some of them,
continue to be politically active even inside prisons. They have the
desire to exchange information with other activists of their same
political group who are outside jails.

Yet, installed public phones inside prison sections would allow
security to monitor prisoners’ communication with the outside world.

The same can be true to issues related to body searches and how far
prisoners can come close to visiting relatives. No doubt that there
exist alternatives that both sides will be able to live with.

The point is: prisoners did not define any political conditions to end their strike, nor they demanded their immediate release.

The question is: why is the response to prisoners’ demands appears to
be harsh, non-compromising and terms used were very inhuman?

Being an ex-inmate I happened to know how important the issue of who controls and decide the terms for life inside jails is.

As a tradition, Palestinian political prisoners managed to develop a
highly disciplined, politically and culturally active life inside
Israeli jails; a daily life filled with studies, discussions, and
meetings allowing most prisoners continue with their active political
life and preserve their affiliations to groups they belonged to prior
to arrestment, and accommodating politically non-affiliated prisoners
into the established socio-political structure.

The prison authority is not happy with the structure established,
thinks of it as dangerous and keeps breeding resistance activists, and
prefers to deal with divide inmates, where each of them minds his own

As a fact 8000 prisoners stacked in overcrowded jails and detention
centers, where many are to spend long years in detention, can not
survive without developing a highly organized prison life.

Prison authority wants for prisons to be the end station after which
prisoners will stop being politically active, prisoners developed a
life style that turned prisons into another station in the journey for
freedom and independence.

The issue is about control, but as the prison authority can not control
the soles of prisoners, oppressive measures are used to crack down
their determination and unity.

As oppression arrived to unbearable levels, prisoners had to face it with empty stomachs.