Palestinian detainees imprisoned by Israel started an open-ended hunger strike on Tuesday, campaigning for an end to all violations carried out against them by the Israeli Prison Administration, and demanding their internationally guaranteed rights.The Palestinian people started marking 17 April as Palestinian Prisoners Day, commemorating 17 April 1974; the day Israel released Mahmoud Bakr Hijazi in the first ever prisoner-swap deal.

The detainees reported that they they formulated their plan for the open-ended hunger strike in order to achieve their legitimate rights, and decided that April 17 is the most suitable date for launching this strike.

They stated that a hunger strike is the only means available to them to achieve their rights and to pressure the Israeli government into negotiating with their representative in order to end all manner of violations against them.

“Our main demands are; ending all sorts of solitary confinement as numerous detainees have spent dozens of years in solitary, tiny cells that lack the basic living requirements; we want an end to all physical and emotional abuse”, the detainees stated. “We want the families of Gaza Strip detainees to be able to visit their detained sons, they have been denied this right for six consecutive years”.

The detainees are also demanding Israel improve their living conditions, and an end to all illegal “laws” against them, such as the “Shalit Law” denying detainees their legitimate rights; preventing them from receiving newspapers, certain TV channels, books, and the right to education.

They are also demanding Israel stops illegal strip searches carried out on their families, night raids of detainees’ rooms, and other manners of collective punishment.

Hundreds of Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons since 1967, following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. More detainees will have died after they were released suffering from serious illnesses and medical conditions resulting from extreme torture and abuse in Israeli prisons.

A recent report stared that 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, and 7 detainees died due to excessive force by the soldiers. The report was conducted by the head of the census department at the Ministry of Detainees, and former political prisoner himself, Abdul-Nasser Farawna.

The Following statement, titled number 1, was issued by the detainees on April 16, 2012, through the Coordinating committee of Palestinian prisoners conducting a massive hunger strike starting on April 17.

Statement No. 1

Issued by the Higher National Leadership Committee of the Prisoners’ Struggle

‘To our great Palestinian people –

We believe in our right to liberty, our dignity, and the recovery of our stolen land and rights, and we announce the first spark of the battle in the occupation prisons (the battle to fulfill our promise) at the break of dawn on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.

We promise our martyrs, former detainees, and the entire Palestinian nations, that we will continue this struggle until achieving all of our rights, and until ending the illegal practice of solitary confinement, or until we die as martyrs.

Therefore, we call upon you to support us, to support our struggle, locally and globally, until we achieve victory or martyrdom. We have firm trust in you.’