Reports from Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
7 May 2014, Occupied Ramallah – The latest wave of mass hunger strikes continue for the 14th day as Palestinian prisoners demand the end of the policy of administrative detention. Administrative detention is a procedure in which Palestinians are arbitrarily arrested and detained without charge or trial based on a secret file. There are currently 183 Palestinians under administrative detention, 9 of them members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
On 24 April 2014, the administrative detainees announced a mass hunger strike to demand their freedom. Detainees will periodically continue to join the hunger strike if the demands are not met. There are currently 95 detainees on hunger strike in Ofer, Megiddo and Naqab prisons. It should be noted that Ofer and Megiddo prisons are provided services by the British-Danish company G4S, which installed cameras and surveillance equipment used to control the Palestinian prisoners.
According to one hunger striker who spoke with Addameer lawyer Mahmoud Hassan, the detainees in the Naqab Prison have all been transferred to an isolated section, separate from the other prisoners. The cells are covered in sand. They have been ill-treated; suffering from daily searches of their cells and being permitted to change their undergarments only twice since the beginning of the strike. They are bound and handcuffed in their cells for ten hours a day.
Three of the hunger strikers in Naqab prison, Fadi Hammad, Fadi Omar and Soufian Bahar, are now in solitary confinement and one detainee, Ahmad Abu Ras, was transferred to an undisclosed location.
Furthermore, the IPS has been denying the hunger strikers salt for the last two weeks. Prisoners who engage in hunger strikes still take liquids and salt, as they are essential for survival.
Denial of salt is a continuation of the punishments against hunger strikers, and despite the grave danger it imposes on the lives of the detainees, has been institutionalized by the Israeli Supreme Court. In 2004, the Israeli Supreme Court denied a petition
by Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and several other Palestinian and Israeli NGOs that demanded the IPS provide salt on a daily basis to hunger-striking prisoners as its denial breaches the constitutional rights of the prisoner.
The hunger strikers can potentially face harsher punishments if the IPS’s most recent proposed bill to legalize force-feeding is approved in the Knesset. The memorandum is currently up for public critique.
In addition, 42 hunger strikers have been transferred to Ayalon / Ramleh Prison, including Abd Al Rizziq Farraj and Salem Dardasawi. On 4 May 2014, their cells were raided and the hunger strikers beaten. Mohammad Maher Badr’s finger was broken during the attack and Mohammad Jamal Al-Natsheh had to be hospitalized for the injuries sustained from the attack. The prisoners are in overcrowded isolation cells, with seven hunger strikers in each. They are in their cells at all times and denied recreational hours in the yard.
Addameer maintains that the Occupation’s authorities are solely responsible for the lives of the hunger strikes. Addameer also 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.
Occupied Ramallah, 24 April 2014 – Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association can confirm the launch of a mass open-ended hunger strike involving over 100 Palestinian political detainees. All those involved are being held under administrative detention, which is a procedure whereby detainees are held without charge or trial.
Today’s hunger strike can be traced back to May 2012 when an agreement was reached between the Israeli Prison Service and representatives of the prisoners, which brought an end to a mass hunger strike involving approximately 2,000 political prisoners. As part of this agreement Israel agreed to limit its use of administrative detention to only exceptional circumstances. However, since then Israel has reneged on the agreement and has continued to use administrative detention on a systematic basis leaving the detainees with little choice but to launch a fresh strike.
The strike is currently taking place in Ofer, Megiddo and the Naqab Prisons and there are plans to escalate the strike should the striking detainee’s demands not be met. The general demand of the hunger strikers is an end to the use of administrative detention. The hunger strikers are also specifically demanding that extensions to administrative detention orders are limited to one extension only.
As of 1 March 2014 there were 183 Palestinians being held without charge or trial under administrative detention, including 9 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members. This number has been steadily increasing over the last year. In 2014 alone, Israel has used administrative detention against 142 detainees, including renewing existing orders and issuing new orders.
Addameer lawyer Samer Sama’an today visited a number of administrative detainees, including PLC member Yasser Mansour, at the Naqab Prison. It was confirmed that 55 administrative detainees being held in the Naqab Prison have launched a hunger-strike. All striking detainees were immediately isolated by the Israeli Prison Service from the rest of the prison population and are currently being held in tents.
As mentioned administrative detainees are held without charge are trial. They are detained on completely ‘secret evidence’ and neither they nor their lawyers have access to such evidence. Some detainees have spent over eight years in prison, never knowing what was contained in the ‘secret evidence’. While administrative detention is legal under international law, it must be used in very specific circumstance and on a case-by-case basis. This is clearly not the case given Israel has used administrative detention against tens of thousands of Palestinians.
In another development Mr. Sama’man reported that prisoners and detainees being held at the Naqab Prison wishing to meet their lawyers are forced to
wait for long periods of time in tiny cells which lack any sort of ventilation. As a result many are choosing not to meet with their lawyers due to the humiliating procedures that the Israeli Prison Service has imposed on them.
Addameer holds the Israeli authorities solely responsible for the health of all hunger strikers. Addameer also 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. Furthermore, Addameer 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.