In the News March 30
46th Anniversary of Palestinian Land Day
Even in Israeli Jails, Palestinians Resist Occupation
According to media reports there are more than 4,600 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel. At least 500, including women and minors, are being held for periods of up to six months, which can be renewed indefinitely, without charge, trial or conviction, under so-called “administrative detention.” They are held on suspicion of being part of the resistance to Israeli occupation. Some have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years.
Even from behind bars of Israeli prisons, Palestinians resist. Since the beginning of January 2022 all administrative detainees have been boycotting the Israeli military court system, en masse, to protest. They refuse to attend hearings for the renewal of administrative detention orders as well as appeal hearings and even sessions at Israel’s Supreme Court.
One such prisoner, Khalil Awawda, age 40, has been on hunger strike for 25 consecutive days as of March 28, in Ofer prison, protesting his administrative detention. He has spent 12 years in Israeli detention, including five years in administrative detention. A father of four, he is suffering severe health problems that require surgery and physical therapy, which he has been denied.
As the resistance to administrative detention mounts, Israel resorts to increasing violence to inflict punishment and attempt to break the prisoner resistance. On March 16 Israeli special forces even stormed cells of Palestinian inmates at the Nafha prison. The spirit of the Palestinian people however cannot be broken.
Israeli officials implemented numerous punitive measures against detainees in revenge for the September 2021 escape of six Palestinians from the northern maximum security prison of Gilboa. The Israelis had to mount a massive manhunt to catch them and its vengeful measures such as visitation bans and reduced yard time led to clashes and strikes. Following weeks of clashes, agreements were reached between the parties but Israel’s lack of implementation of its commitments sparked a new wave of protests, including the refusal to stand up at the morning roll call, to go out into the yard and refusing meals. A mass hunger strike was called for March 25.
On March 24 the Palestinian Authority’s Detainees Affairs Commission announced that the mass hunger strike that had been scheduled to start on March 25 had been called off. The Palestine Chronicle reports that the Chairman of the commission, Qadri Abu-Bakr issued a statement which said that the Palestinian prisoners “were able to force the Israel Prison Services to achieve their demands concerning their daily life and healthcare needs.” He added, “The steadfastness and unity of the [Palestinian] prisoner movement have taught the [Israeli] occupation a real lesson that a new reality and a new equation are in place, and that any abuse of any prison is an assault on the entire prisoner movement with all its factions.”
TML Daily, posted March 30, 2022.