By Diana Alzeer
Youth movements and activists in Palestine and worldwide have declared Wednesday, October 12, 2011 to be a day of both general and hunger strikes in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who have been undergoing a hunger strike for the last 14 days.
Social media and blogs will also be dedicated to the issue using hashtags such as #Oct12 #RightsPrisoners, #HungerStrike and #HS4Palestine.
Palestinian media reported Monday that many prisoners, including the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Ahmad Saadat, have undergone serious deterioration in their health. Israeli authorities maintain their refusal to deal with the prisoner demands that led to the hunger strike on 27 September.
Akram Mansour, who has been held in Israeli prison since August 2, 1979, and is suffering from a brain tumor, has also undergone a dramatic decline in his health. Israeli prison authorities refused to give Mansour any kind of treatment after he repeatedly fell in and out of consciousness.
Another 460 prisoners recently joined the hunger strike with their jailed peers.
In a phone conversation Monday morning, Ayman Karajeh, a researcher at the Palestinian Human Rights and Prisoners Rights Organization Addameer told me: “the number of prisoners on hunger strike will reach 4,000 by tomorrow and will turn to a complete strike in all prisons if the Israeli prison authorities do not meet the prisoners’ demands.”
Karajeh also confirmed that all the 200 prisoners who have started the strike have been immediately moved to solitary confinement as a punishment for the strike.
Addameer reported that this hunger strike came as a response to “an escalating series of punitive measures” by the Israeli prison authorities. Palestinian prisoners demanded an end to their collective punishment, solitary confinement, forbidding of education and the continued humiliation they receive by the Israeli authorities.
The issue of Palestinian prisoners is a hot subject among Palestinians as statistics show that about 40% of the Palestinian male population in the occupied territories have been jailed at one point or another by Israel. This makes the subject of prisoners a nearly universal experience among Palestinians. There are 6,000 Palestinian prisoners who remain in Israeli prisons today, including women, children, and elderly, and 219 of them who are under administrative detention and without charge.
Diana Alzeer is Palestinian-Bulgarian political and social activist and freelance producer living in Ramallah, Palestine. Twitter: ManaraRam
This post has been updated, 11 October