As Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails approach the second week of their hunger strike, the doyen of the detainees has said that they will continue with the strike “until we achieve our demands or martyrdom”. Nael Barghouti, 54, said that the prisoners are insisting on their “rights, not favours”, from the Zionist authorities. He is the world’s longest-serving political prisoner, having been sentenced in April 1978.
The Israeli occupation authorities have used repressive measures to try to break the hunger strike, including putting prisoners in solitary confinement and preventing visits from families and legal representatives. According to the Wa’aed Association, Barghouti and his fellow prisoners are on strike in coordination with the national movement as a response to the crimes of the Israelis against them. The doyen of the prisoners believes that public sympathy and support across Palestine should now increase with the result that Israel’s crimes are given even greater exposure.
The Israeli occupation authorities are, claims Barghouti, in a state of confusion and moral bankruptcy in the face of the will and patience of the Palestinian prisoners. He called upon the Palestinian media to put more effort into spreading information about the prisoners and the conditions in which they are kept. “This should be done 24/7 before the news headlines,” he said.
The Israeli occupation authorities have more than 6,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in at least 22 prisons and camps inside Israel. The prisoners include 38 women, 285 children, 270 “administrative detainees”, 22 elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and 20 prisoners in solitary confinement. More than 140 Palestinian prisoners have now served more than 20 years in Israeli prisons.