1600 Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel, declared they will be starting an open-ended hunger strike on April 17th in protest to their illegal detention, and demanding basic rights. Palestinian Minister of Detainees in the West Bank, Issa Qaraqe’, stated that the situation of the detainees in Israeli prisons is very difficult, and dangerous, especially amidst the ongoing Israeli violations and attacks against them.
Qaraqe’ added that the detainees are fighting a battle to defend their dignity and to improve their living conditions.
He further called for massive solidarity campaigns, and called for declaring April 17, the Palestinian Prisoners Day, as a day for solidarity and massive nonviolent protests in all parts of the occupied territories.
The Maan News Agency reported that a committee formed by the Israeli Prison Authority, headed by Yitzhak Gabai, visited a number of detention facilities, listened to the demands of the detainees, and “promised” respond to these demands this coming week.
Some of the demands presented by the detainees are;
1. Ending Administrative Detention.
2. Ending Solitary Confinement.
3. Reinstating the right to education.
4. Halting all invasions targeting detainees’ rooms and sections.
5. Allowing family visitations, especially to detainees from the Gaza Strip.
6. Improving medical care to ailing detainees.
7. Halting the humiliation, and body-search of the families of the detainees.
8. Allowing the entry of books and newspapers.
9. Halting all sorts of penalties against the detainees.
Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons are subject to harsh and illegal treatment that violates International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.
The Palestinians started marking April 17 as the Palestinian Prisoners Day, on April 17, 1974, the day Israel released Mahmoud Bakr Hijazi, in the first ever prisoner-swap deal.
202 Palestinian detainees died after being kidnapped by the Israeli forces since 1967, following Israel’s occupation to the rest of Palestine (The West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights).
Hundreds of detainees died after they were released suffering from serious illnesses and medical conditions resulting from extreme torture and abuse in Israeli prisons.
70 detainees died in prison due to extreme torture, 74 were executed by the soldiers after being arrested, 51 died due to the lack of medical treatment, 7 detainees died due to excessive force by the soldiers, and after being shot while in prison, former political prisoner, head of the census department at the Ministry of Detainees, Abdul-Nasser Farawna reported.