The Palestinian prisoner support group Addameer announced Saturday that it knows of eight Palestinian detainees currently on open-ended hunger strikes, four of whom have been hospitalized and are being force-fed fluids intravenously. The Israeli prison authority confirmed that 4 hunger strikers are in the hospital in Ramle prison.The hunger strikers are protesting Israel’s policy of holding Palestinians without charge, sometimes for years at a time, under a policy known as ‘administrative detention’. These strikers are following the example of Khader Adnan, who held a hunger strike for 67 days before striking a deal with Israeli authorities for his release, and Hana Shalabi, who was deported to the Gaza Strip on April 1st after a 43-day hunger strike.
According to Addameer, the known hunger strikers are Tair Halala of the Hebron area and Balal Diab of the village of Rai near Jenin, who have both been on hunger strike for 48 days; Hassan Safdi of Nablus, who has held his hunger strike for 41 days; Omer Abu Shlal, with 40 days of hunger striking; Ahmed Sakar, who has been on hunger strike for 28 days. Two unnamed prisoners have also been on strike for 24 days, and no information has been released about the 8th hunger striker.
Around 1600 Palestinian prisoners have pledged to join the hunger strike on Tuesday, which would mark the largest open-ended prisoner hunger strike in history.
International analysts have compared the Palestinian prison strike, which began in December with Khader Adnan, with the Irish political prisoners’ hunger strikes of the late 1970s, in which Bobby Sands and others died of self-imposed starvation to protest the British occupation of northern Ireland.
The Palestinian hunger strikers have called for an end to the Israeli policy of ‘administrative detention’. According to Addameer, Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on “secret information” without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. In the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Israeli army is authorized to issue administrative detention orders against Palestinian civilians on the basis of Military Order 1651 (Art. 285). This order empowers military commanders to detain an individual for up to six-month renewable periods if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed.