Hunger Strike Over, the Work to Free Palestinian Prisoners Continues
An estimated 1,500 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons started a hunger strike on April 17, demanding proper medical care, and an end to heavy restrictions on family visits, Israel’s practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial in so-called administrative detention, and the use of solitary confinement.
Last weekend, the prisoners agreed to suspend their strike after 40 days without food. The end of the strike came after 20 hours of intense negotiations between the strike’s leaders and the Israel Prison Service, according to a statement issued on May 27 by the prisoners solidarity committee. The committee called the strike a “victory for the Palestinian people and the prisoners in their epic defense of freedom and dignity.”
According to our ally Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organization, there are currently 6,300 political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention centers, including 300 children and 500 in “administrative detention,” an Israeli practice of arresting and indefinitely detaining people without charge or trial, based on secret information.
One of the most recently arrested Palestinian political prisoners is Abdul-Razeq Farraj. Abdul-Razeq is the Administrative Director of Grassroots International’s partner organization, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. He was arrested by Israeli forces at midnight on May 24 from his home, in front of his family. Abdul-Razeq was brought to an Israeli jail where he is still being held under administrative detention.
Sadly, this is not the first time. In total, Abdul-Razeq has spent 16 years of his life in Israeli jails, most of that time under administrative detention, with no charges against him.
After his last arrest in April of 2014, Grassroots International issued a call to action that over 1,300 of you took part in demanding his immediate release and an end to administrative detentions.
We breathed a sigh of relief when he was released in 2016, after 20 months in jail. At the time, he shared this message with us:
“I express my deepest gratitude for the support you extended to me during the period I was in Israeli prison… Your support proves that Palestinian prisoners have real supporters in the United States. It was a source of strength, optimism and hope for me…Myself and all administrative detainees in Israeli prisons are convinced that you and all the people of conscience will continue supporting the right to freedom of Palestinian prisoners and all the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation.”
We are deeply saddened and outraged by the news that Israeli forces have once again imprisoned Abdul-Razeq. His words inspire us to continue raising awareness and pressure to demand not only his release, but also protection of the fundamental human rights of all Palestinians and an end to the Israeli occupation.