Over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, who had been held without charges by Israeli authorities, were poised to launch a mass hunger strike beginning on June 18. But in a statement by The Administrative Detainees’ Committee of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement, the strike has been postponed.
Why? Because the organized and coordinated efforts of the incarcerated Palestinian workers have already managed to win some concessions from the Israeli occupation forces.
A statement signed by the Administrative Detainees’ Committee in Occupation Prisons dated June 17, 2023, reads in part: “After the last dialogue session that took place last Wednesday, between the representatives of the captive movement and the prison authorities of the occupation, and after consulting the administrative prisoners, it was decided to give the opportunity to continue the dialogue after accepting some of the prisoners’ demands and not responding to the main demands, until the beginning of next month.
“Respectively; We affirm the following:
“First: This opportunity is the last chance to respond to our just demands.”
“Second: Our constant disposition and prompt response is the guarantor of the preservation of our rights and the enemy’s response to all of our demands.”
This mass effort comes just weeks after the martyrdom of Sheikh Khader Adnan, a Palestinian man locked up by the Israelis without having been charged with a crime. A prominent leader in the Islamic Jihad movement, Adnan resisted his jailers by refusing food and medicine for 86 days before dying on May 2. At 45 years old, the father of nine had already participated in hunger strikes at least four previous times between 2012 and 2021.
As Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reported at the time of his death: “The Israeli prison administration refused to transfer him to a civilian hospital and refused his release on bail just last week, declaring that more information was needed about his medical condition. Just yesterday, yet another military court hearing in his case was postponed and delayed into the future, a clear policy of acting to ensure his death behind occupation bars.
“The martyrdom of Sheikh Khader Adnan, the symbol of dignity, freedom and steadfastness, is an Israeli assassination, carried out with forethought and premeditation. It has been clear for the months of this strike that the occupation is determined to eliminate this symbol of prisoners’ resistance and Palestinian sacrifice and commitment and love for his people and land.”
Repression breeds resistance
On June 18, Samidoun noted that “there are currently 1,083 Palestinians jailed under administrative detention — that is, without charge or trial on the basis of so-called ‘secret evidence.’ They constitute over 20% of the nearly 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli occupation jails. Administrative detention orders are issued for up to six months at a time and are indefinitely renewable. Palestinian prisoners are demanding the end of administrative detention as a policy of terror and collective punishment against the Palestinian people.” (tinyurl.com/3x5nupjp)
The Zionists can no longer ignore the political power of conscious, disciplined political prisoners. The mere threat of organized nonviolent resistance in the form of this planned hunger strike was enough to force the jailers back to the negotiating table after already granting some of the prisoners’ demands.
According to People’s Dispatch: “There are around 4,900 Palestinians inside different Israeli prisons, including 31 women and 160 children. Most of them face widespread atrocities from the Israeli prison authorities, including denial of family meetings, restrictions on interactions with other prisoners and torture, among others.” (tinyurl.com/3mxjddbf)
We ask our brothers, sisters and siblings behind bars in the U.S.: Doesn’t this sound familiar? How many thousands of our family members in the U.S. are currently behind bars, held on bogus charges or with no charges at all? How many are locked up now after waiting months or years for a trial?
How many humiliations, insults and beatings have you sustained in the effort to hold yourself with dignity in the face of your incarceration?
Incarcerated workers in the U.S. can connect their struggle to the resistance underway among Palestinian prisoners as a means of developing their own tactics. We at Workers World newspaper are well aware that merely reporting on hunger strikes and other organized strikes in U.S. prisons has been used as a pretext to censor this newspaper and block its distribution to our readers inside prisons, jails and detention centers.
We likewise must take every opportunity to force U.S. jailers to free our people and grant their demands. No struggle is too small to use as a lever to further wrench open the doors of the global prison system.