In a letter obtained by the office of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Secretary-General on Wednesday, the 17th day of the "Freedom and Dignity" mass hunger strike, Marwan Barghouthi, the Fatah leader organising and leading the strike, wrote of the conditions he and other prisoners have been facing as the strike entered its third week.
Israel has decided to respond through incitement, solitary confinement of hunger strikers and repression, with the illusion that this will make us abandon our sacred struggle and our legitimate demands,
Barghouthi said, referring to a series of punitive measures that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has carried out against prisoners since day one of the strike.
Barghouthi, who organised the strike that launched on April 17, Palestinian Prisoner's Day, told readers of the letter that he was writing from solitary confinement on behalf of some 1,600 prisoners partaking in the strike.
"Israel cannot silence us, nor isolate us, nor break us," Barghouthi said, highlighting the effects of Israel's daily detention raids on Palestinian communities and families, adding that mass incarceration of Palestinians was a tactic "to exhaust and intimidate our people and destroy its ability to struggle against the occupation."
This occupation has violated our cities, villages, refugee camps, holy places and Jerusalem, and it arrests dozens of Palestinians daily and subjects them to torture and ill treatment, including during interrogation, and falsely accuses them and adopts arbitrary decisions against them through their legitimate courts, civilian and military, and conducts policies and actions that constitute grave breaches under international law and crimes for which those responsible must be held accountable.
Barghouthi went on to call for unity among Palestinian factions, saying that the Palestinian people, if united, are "capable of creating miracles." He also said that the cause of Palestine and "the rights of our people," were "the most noble and just cause of our time."
"We are confident that the loyalty of the prisoners to their people and their country will be met with loyalty and that this battle is part and parcel of the battle of our people for freedom and dignity. We shall meet soon, in freedom," the letter concluded.
Initially called for by Barghouthi and other Fatah-affiliated prisoners, Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum have since joined the strike.
The hunger strikers have denounced the torture, ill treatment, and medical neglect of Palestinian prisoners at the hands of Israeli authorities, as well as Israel's widespread use of administrative detention – internment without trial or charges – which is only permitted under international law in extremely limited circumstances.
Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to a joint statement released on Saturday by Palestinian organisations.
According to prisoners' rights organisation Addameer, some 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of March.