Mass Hunger Striking for Justice
by Stephen Lendman
Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners languish in Israel’s gulag. Hundreds are detained administratively.
They’re uncharged. They committed no crimes. Many are held longterm. Some are released and rearrested.
Prolonged arbitrary detention breaches international law. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:
1. “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.”
“No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law.”
2. “Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.”
4. “Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.”
Arbitrary administrative detentions violate international laws, standards and norms. Israeli abuse of power is longstanding.
Four Israeli entities have authorizing power:
- its Israeli Security Agency (ISA);
- military commanders;
- military prosecutor’s office; and
- military judges adjudicating cases.
ISA or police interrogate detainees. Military commanders decide on whether to hold them and for how long.
Judges have final say. Each order permits three or six month detentions. They can be indefinitely renewed. They can last years. Potentially forever.
Innocent Palestinians suffer grievous Israeli injustice. On April 24, 186 administrative detainee began hunger striking for justice.
A press release called it the only way possible for legitimate rights. Prisoners urged widespread public support.
They demand their unconditional release. International law supports them.
On April 24, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association headlined “Mass Hunger-Strike Launched by Palestinian ‘Administrative Detainees,’ ” saying:
“All those involved are being held under administrative detention, which is a procedure whereby detainees are held without charge or trial.”
Palestinian hunger strikers reflect uncommon courage. Mass willingness to die for justice is unprecedented. Many hunger struck before en masse. In 2012, about 2,000 political prisoners were involved.
In May 2012, Israeli promises were made. They were systematically broken. They included:
- ending administrative detentions except under special circumstances;
- ending solitary confinement with 72 hours;
- ending family visitation bans;
- revoking the punitive Shalit Law; it toughened prison conditions; and
- improved conditions overall.
Israeli promises aren’t worth the paper they’re written. Key ones Palestinians demanded were violated straightaway.
Ofer, Megiddo and Naqab Prison detainees hunger stuck. Plans suggest escalating it if key demands aren’t met.
Strikers want long denied justice. They want administrative detentions ended. They want current ones limited to one 3 – 6 month extension only.
Israel’s Prison Service responded harshly. Strikers were isolated. They’re held in tents. They’re uncharged. They’re untried.
They’re detained on secret nonexistent evidence. Defense counsel can’t access it. Denying them violates fundamental international law. Israel does it with impunity.
Some detainees spend years in prison. They’re never told why. Since June 1967, tens of thousands of Palestinians were administratively held.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, over 800,000 were lawlessly imprisoned since June 1967 overall. Around 5,000 are currently held.
“Administrative Detention is the ‘unknown enemy’ which the detainees face, as it is a punishment without a charge, without an indictment,” said the Ministry.
“Administrative detainees are held without trial. Neither they or their lawyers are allowed to defend themselves, simply because they face what Israel calls a ‘secret file’ that no one is allowed to see.”
“Each arbitrary Administrative Detention order is usually 1 to 6 months, issued by military commanders in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
“Such orders target both men and women of different ages, young and old, including physicians, engineers, professors, teachers, journalists and elected legislators and officials.”
“Such orders are repeatedly renewed and, in many cases, just as the detainees are about to step out of prison, they are informed of a new order, often spending months and years under such orders without even knowing when, or if, they will ever be freed.”
Addameer is clear and unequivocal saying it “holds the Israeli authorities solely responsible for the health of all hunger strikers.”
It “demands that all contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention pressure Israel to immediately release all administrative detainees and cease the use of administrative detention.”
It “calls on global civil society to mobilize without delay in support of the striking detainees and 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons.”
A Final Comment
“Stop administrative detention(s),” says Addameer. “Join (its) Global End Administrative Detention Campaign!“
“Addameer calls on activists and people of conscience to stand in solidarity with all political prisoners and join Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Organization’s upcoming global campaign against administrative detention.”
Around 5,000 “Palestinians are currently detained by Israel; 10 of them women, 193 of them children, and (nearly 200) under administrative detention, a decrepit policy that Israel uses to hold Palestinians on secret information indefinitely without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.”
“Not only are these prisoners held arbitrarily, but Israel’s use of administrative detention violates several international standards, such as deporting Palestinians from the occupied territory to Israel, denying regular family visits and failing to take into account the best interests of child detainees as required under international law.”
“We need your support to break their chains and the silence on administrative detention.”
“Today, Israel has outsourced security for prisons where Palestinians are held to a British-Danish company named G4S.”
“Along with the Israeli Prison Service, G4S is responsible for the harsh conditions the prisoners faced during the historic 2012 hunger strikes that thousands of Palestinians participated in, including two hunger strikers that neared death in protest of their arbitrary detention, Khader Adnan and Hana Al-Shalabi.”
“G4S is also complicit in Israel’s detention of nearly one-third of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 2006, and for dozens of human rights defenders being arrested every year for participating in popular resistance.”
“The government of Israel should release all administrative detainees, and in the meantime, all administrative detainees must be granted their rights in accordance with international law.”
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.