Palestinian prisoners affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) announced a ten-day suspension of their mass hunger strike Wednesday, according to a statement released by the Prisoners and Former Prisonerâ€™s Affairs Ministry in the Gaza Strip.
Dozens of PFLP-affiliated prisoners held in Israeli prisons launched a mass hunger strike last week in solidarity with Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed, who had started his hunger strike a few days earlier when Israeli forces sentenced him to six months of administrative detention without charge or trial upon completion of his 14-year prison sentence.
According to the ministry, the hunger striking prisoners have suspended their strike as they await a decision by Israeli authorities regarding Kayedâ€™s detention.
The ministry added that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) had returned 12 hunger-striking prisoners back to Israelâ€™s Megiddo prison after transferring them to other prisons in Israel on Friday — a common tactic used by Israeli authorities to pressure Palestinian prisoners to end their hunger strikes.
Ma’an News Agency further reports that IPS has transferred dozens of PFLP hunger-striking prisoners to various prisons across Israel since the start of the mass strike in an attempt separate them and disrupt organizing activities, and have placed others in solitary confinement.
IPS also placed PFLP leaders Wael Jaghoub and Salah Ali in isolation on Friday â€śin an attempt to repress their growing protest steps and to neutralize the role of leaders and isolate them from the rest of the prisoners,â€ť a statement by the PFLP said.
As Kayed entered the 15th day of his hunger strike on Tuesday, IPS transferred him from solitary confinement at Ramon prison to solitary confinement at Ela prison in attempt to pressure him to end his strike.
Israeli prison officers have carried out a variety of punitive measures against PFLP-affiliated prisoners who have joined the strike, such as raiding their cells, confiscating electronic devices, and shutting down water and cooling systems.
Kayed, a member of the PFLP, has been held in solitary confinement for more than a year after Israeli authorities learned of his leadership activities between Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
The PFLP Prisoner Branch called the Israeli decision a â€śserious threat to all Palestinian prisoners that we must confront early before it becomes a systematic policy of the occupation,â€ť in the statement published Friday.
The statement said that the movement’s prison branch was initiating protest measures to continue throughout June and early July, to culminate in an open hunger strike by all PFLP-affiliated prisoners being held by Israel on July 7.
Kayed was originally detained in 2001 for alleged involvement in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades — the armed wing of the PFLP.
Rights groups have claimed that Israel’s administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists, as it allows Israel to imprison Palestinians without disclosing evidence and without charge or trial.
Although Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.
Israel considers the majority of Palestinian political parties to be â€śterrorist” organizations. As a result, most Palestinians who participate in the political arena in the occupied Palestinian territory risk being imprisoned by Israeli authorities.
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.