BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Head of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe has called on all Palestinian factions in Israeli prisons to join an upcoming mass hunger strike, which was originally called for by the Fatah movement.
All Fatah-affiliated prisoners have committed to joining the strike, led by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthii, scheduled to begin on April 17 on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day -- with conflicting reports emerging over whether or not prisoners affiliated to other political factions would join as well.
Qaraqe said that Fatah-affiliated prisoners comprise 65 percent of all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there are a total of 6,500 Palestinian prisoners.
The committee’s statement said that Qaraqe called for all factions to join, in order to solidify a “genuine national unity to confront the procedures and practices of the administration of prisons and the government of Israel.”
After the hunger strike was announced, an Israel Prison Service official reportedly said that they would not respond to any of the prisoners’ demands, while Israel TV reported that Israeli security has expressed fear of a “collapse in security conditions” in prisons during the strike.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan ordered for a military hospital be established to ensure that hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners were not transferred to civilian hospitals -- which have so far refused to force feed hunger striking Palestinian
While the Israeli Supreme Court recently decided force feeding hunger-striking prisoners was constitutional, Israeli doctors have sided with internationally accepted medical ethics that regard the practice as a form of torture.
Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun warned that it was “highly possible” that Erdan’s field hospital proposal “is an attempt to impose mass force feeding on striking Palestinian prisoners outside the civilian medical framework.”
The Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs reiterated the list of demands of the strike, which were issued by Marwan Barghouthi, who is serving a life sentence in Israeli prison:
1. Install a public telephone for Palestinian detainees in all prisons and sections in order to communicate with their families.
• Resume the second monthly visits for Palestinian prisoners that were halted by the International Committee of the Red Cross last year.
• Ensure the regularity of visits every two weeks without being disabled by any side.
• First and second degree relatives shall not be prevented from visiting the detainee.
• Increase the duration of the visit form 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
• Allow the detainees to take pictures with their families every three months.
• Establish facilities to comfort the families of detainees.
• Allow children and grandchildren under the age of 16 to make visits for detainees.
• Shut down the so-called Ramla Prison Hospital, because it does not provide the adequate treatment.
• Terminate Israel’s policy of deliberate medical negligence.
• Carry out periodic medical examinations.
• Perform surgeries to a high medical standard.
• Permit specialized physicians from outside the Israeli Prison Service to treat prisoners.
• Release sick detainees, especially those who have disabilities and incurable diseases.
• Medical treatment should not be at the expense of the detainee.
4. Respond to the needs and demands of Palestinian women detainees, namely the issue of being transported for long hours between Israeli courts and prisons.
• Treat detainees humanely when transporting them.
• Return detainees to prisons after the visiting clinics or courts and do not further detain them at crossings.
• Prepare the crossings for human use and provide meals for detainees.
6. Add satellites channels that suit the needs of detainees.
7. Install air conditioners in prisons, especially in the Megiddo and Gilboa prisons.
8. Restore kitchens in all prisons and place them under the supervision of Palestinian detainees.
9. Allow detainees to have books, newspapers, clothes and food.
10. End the policy of solitary confinement.
11. End the policy of administrative detention.
12. Allow detainees to study at Hebrew Open University.
13. Allow detainees to have Tawjihi exams in an official and agreed manner.