Israel marked 47 years to its 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by pushing through ultra-nationalist legislation which recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, and removes the facade of a Jewish and democratic state. Meanwhile, around four hundred Palestinians prisoners are in the midst of a hunger strike with the support of Palestinians outside the prisons.
Palestinians in Ramallah and Hebron demonstrated in solidarity with the detainees. Shops were closed in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday. Black-and-white flags bearing slogans such as “Freedom for Prisoners” and “Chains must be broken” flew in the streets of Ramallah. (1)
On April 24, a group of 120 prisoners incarcerated under what Israel terms “administrative detention” – or imprisonment without trial of Palestinians suspected of security-related offences – began a hunger strike. They were later joined by another 170 inmates who also demanded that Israel abolish the procedure.
The News Agency Reuters reports: ”Israel’s Prison Service said 65 hunger strikers were being treated in hospitals, although none were in critical condition and all were conscious. A Palestinian lawyer who has visited some of the hospitalized inmates put the number of prisoners who had required hospital care at 100.” (2)
Mass Solidarity with the Hunger-Striking Palestinian Prisoners
The solidarity amongst the Palestinians is huge. “In what must be one of the largest mass hunger strikes in the world, more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails went on a one-day strike today [on May 8]”. (3)
Activists from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine rallied in front of the United Nations offices in Gaza to show their solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails. (4)
The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) sent a letter to the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, about the deteriorating health of the Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails. Among other things, this letter states:
“Following the launch of the strike the Israeli authorities immediately began taking punitive measures against the hunger strikers. These included the immediate isolation of all hunger strikers away from the rest of the prison population. Many hunger strikers have also been transferred to different prisons, while the leaders of the hunger strike have also been placed in isolation. All hunger strikers have been denied salt for the first fifteen days of their strike.
The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) and Israeli Special Forces have also been staging violent raids on the prisoners’ cells and conducting intrusive searches of the prisoners on a daily basis. In many cases, the hunger strikers have been beaten and injured during these raids and were subsequently denied medical treatment.
As you are aware the mass hunger strike of 2012 ended on 14 May 2012 after an agreement was reached between representatives of the prisoners and the IPS. At this time it was agreed that Israel would limit the use of administrative detention to only ‘exceptional circumstances,’ as is required under international law. However, it is quite clear that Israel has reneged on the agreement, as it has continued to use administrative detention on a systematic basis which has compelled the prisoners to launch a fresh strike.” (5)
If international law were enforced, the civil and military authorities of Israel would have been jailed long ago. But international law is only enforced against leaders of the imperialist-controlled semi-colonies for crimes they commit in the service of one of the imperialist states when, for one reason or another, they were considered a liability rather than an asset.
On the subject of administrative detention, B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, has written:
“Over the years, Israel has held thousands of Palestinians in administrative detention, for periods ranging from several months to several years. (…) Israel uses three pieces of legislation to hold Palestinians in administrative detention:
1. Articles 284-294 of the Order regarding Security Provisions [Consolidated Version] (Judea and Samaria) (No. 1651), 5770-2009, which is part of the military legislation in the West Bank. Most administrative detainees are held under individual detention orders issued pursuant to this order.
2. The Emergency Powers (Detentions) Law, which applies in Israel and replaced the administrative-detention arrangement established in the Emergency Regulations of the Mandate period. It is rare for residents of the Occupied Territories to be administratively detained under this law.
3. The Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law, which came into force in 2002. Originally, the law was intended to enable the holding of Lebanese citizens who were being held in Israel at the time as “bargaining chips” for the return of captives and bodies. Now, Israel uses the law to detain without trial Palestinian residents in Gaza Strip, where the military legislation was implemented following the “disengagement” plan, in September 2005.” (6)
A Short History of the Emergency Regulations Laws
At the end of the second imperialist world war Zionists organizations in Palestine used terror against the British Mandate, Arabs, and Jews suspected of disloyalty to Zionism’s aim of forcing the British to open the gates for Jewish immigration in preparation for the looming war between Israel and the Palestinians. In 1945, the British reacted by enacting the emergency regulations laws. This provoked an outcry amongst the Zionists:
“Dr. Bernard Joseph, later Israeli Minister of Justice Dov Yosef, called them “terrorism under an official seal.” Yaakov S. Shapira, Israel’s future attorney general, said: “The regime created by the Emergency Regulations is without precedent in a civilized society. Even Nazi Germany had no such laws...Only one kind of system resembles these conditions—that of a country under occupation.”Menachem Begin called the regulations “Nazi laws” and vowed not to obey them, although he had no complaint about them when Israel later used them against the Palestinians.” (7)
Of course, none of this has stopped Israel from using the very same laws against the Palestinians from 1948 onwards!
Netanyahu threatens to force-feed hunger striking Palestinian prisoners
In reaction to the ongoing hunger strike, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has threatened to force-feed the hunger striking prisoners and has vowed to push forward proposed legislation which will allow physicians to feed prisoners against their will. The Electronic Intifada reports:
“Force-feeding is a breach of the World Medical Association’s guidelines on the treatment of hunger strikers, which states that: ‘Physicians or other health care personnel may not apply undue pressure of any sort on the hunger striker to suspend the strike. Treatment or care of the hunger striker must not be conditional upon suspension of the hunger strike.’
Adalah, a non-governmental organization in Israel has stated in a press release emailed to The Electronic Intifada that the bill ‘would remove the last civil right that administrative detainees possessed, after they had been denied all other rights that would allow them to strike against their illegal imprisonment.’ (…)
The Israel Medical Association has condemned the proposed legislation. However, Israeli doctors have a long history of participation in the widespread torture of Palestinian detainees. This was published in a 2011 report by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Public Committee against Torture in Israel, which describes the active role of medical professionals in the torture of Palestinian detainees:
‘There is a strong suspicion that by blatantly violating the rights of the striking detainees to access adequate medical care and by flagrantly ignoring medical ethical standards and professional norms, the IPS [Israel Prison Service] utilized its medical system to pressure Palestinian prisoners and detainees on hunger strike causing unnecessary and illegitimate danger to their health and lives. Indeed, through various means, hunger strikers were isolated from any contact with persons not under IPS authority. They did so by delaying and denying entry to physicians, attorneys, and prisoners’ family members, as well as by denying treating physicians’ access to their patients’ medical information.’” (8)
For a Free and Red Palestine!
As long as the Israeli apartheid state exists, Palestinians will be jailed in one or another form! We of the Internationalist Socialist League call on the international working class and all the supporters of the Palestinian people to organize demonstrations in solidarity with the hunger strikers and demand that Israel release them immediately.
Release the Palestinians hunger strikers!
Release all political Palestinians prisoners!
For a Free, Democratic and Red Palestine!
(1) Voice of America: Palestinians Close Shops in Support of Prisoners, June 8, 2014 http://www.voanews.com/content/palestinians-close-shops-in-support-of-prisoners-in-israel-on-hunger-strike/1932113.html
(2) Reuters: Palestinians close shops, rally for hunger-striking prisoners, June 8 2014, http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/06/08/uk-palestinian-israel-prisoners-idINKBN0EJ0K320140608
(3) Crescent: 5,000 Palestinians prisoners in Israeli jails go on hunger strike, May 8 2014, http://www.crescent-online.net/2014/05/5000-palestinians-prisoners-in-israeli-jails-go-on-hunger-strike-crescent-onlinenet-4450-articles.html
(4) Ashraf Shannon: Gaza rally in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners, Press TV, May 14 2014, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/05/14/362549/gaza-rally-in-solidarity-with-hungerstriking-prisoners
(5) WAFA: Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs Briefs Ashton on Deteriorating Conditions of Hunger Strikers, June 2 2014, http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=25357
(6) See B'telsm: Administrative Detention, 1.1.2011, http://www.btselem.org/administrative_detention and Palestinians News Network: Administrative Detention in Israeli Prisons, 27 May 2014, http://english.pnn.ps/index.php/prisoners/7601-administrative-detention-in-israeli-prisons
(7) Donald Neff: From Its Beginning, Israeli Policy Promoted War, Not Peace, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May/June 1998, http://www.wrmea.org/wrmea-archives/194-washington-report-archives-1994-1999/may-june-1998/8773-from-its-beginning-israeli-policy-promoted-war-not-peace-.html
(8) Maureen Clare Murphy: Netanyahu threatens to force-feed hunger striking Palestinian prisoners, The Electronic Intifada 6.62014, http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/netanyahu-threatens-force-feed-hunger-striking-palestinian-prisoners