Palestinian prisoners are refusing food for the day in solidarity with the four prisoners on hunger-strike. The most prominent of the four, Samer Issawi, has been on hunger-strike for 211 days, making it the longest ever. At least 800 prisoners staged the one-day strike in three Israeli prisons; Nafha, Ramon, and Eshel.
Elsewhere today, Palestinian protestors held rallies in several parts of the occupied territories in support of the four hunger-strikers; Samer Issawi, Tariq Qaadan, Jafar Ezzedine, and Ayman Sharawna.
Samer was initially released in 2011 as part of the Shalit prisoner exchange agreement, after serving 6 years of a 26 year sentence. He was later re-arrested for allegedly violating the terms of his release. His strike is an attempt to force the Israeli Occupation to release him.
Samer has been on strike for so long that his health has severely deteriorated. Issawi suffers from a loss of vision, dizziness and loss of consciousness. He has lost control over his limbs and suffers severe pain all over his body – especially in his abdomen and kidneys, and must be moved in a wheelchair. He has been transferred to a prison hospital; however the Israeli occupation forces have refused to release him until he has been sentenced.
He has sent a message to the public from prison saying, “I draw my strength from my people, from all the free people in the world, from friends, and the families of prisoners who continue to chant night and day for freedom and an end to the occupation.”
Palestinian prisoners have gone on hunger-strike previously in an attempt to raise awareness of the appalling treatment they endure while imprisoned. They have vowed to continue their strike until they are treated with dignity and their demands are met by their jailers.
The on-going strikes and protests have raised concerns in Israel. According to Radio Israel, there are serious Israeli fears of deteriorating security situation in the West Bank. Palestinian civil society organizations have condemned what they view as the international silence, especially that of human rights organizations towards Issawi’s case. They believe that this silence only encourages the occupation to continue its crimes against Palestinian prisoners.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad