“. . . It is my right to behold the sun . . .” (Fouzi El-Asmar)

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Ofer Prison gate. (Photo, a rainy day in November, 2015, Harold Knight)

❶ Palestinian prisoners enter 20th day of mass hunger strike
. . . . . ❶― (ᴀ)   18th day of hunger strike: More prisoners join mass hunger strike

  • Background from journal Public Health Ethics

❷ Solidarity strikes spreading through Europe after Manchester and Edinburgh student hunger strikes launched
❸ Links to related articles
❹ POETRY by Fouzi El-Asmar
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Ma’an News Agency
May 6, 2017
Some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners entered their 20th day of a mass hunger strike demanding humane treatment in Israeli prisons and an end to Israel’s policy of imprisoning Palestinians without charge or trial, as more Palestinian prisoners have joined the strike, while Israel Prison Service (IPS) has continued cracking down on the hunger strikers.
___According to the Media Committee of the Freedom and Dignity Strike — a joint committee formed by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, five more Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s Ofer prison joined the hunger strike on Friday.
[. . . .] ___The committee also added that representative of the prisoners in Ofer prison Akram Hamed said that the hunger strikers’ sections in the prison have been raided daily and subjected to “suppressing procedures,” noting that despite this and the continued deterioration of the healths of some of the hunger strikers, they were determined to continue until their demands are met.    ___Meanwhile, the the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Gregory III Laham declared a solidarity hunger strike for Saturday in support of the prisoners.     MORE . . .

Ofer Prison guard tower (Photo, November, 2015. Harold Knight)

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association 
May 4, 2017
[. . . .] Over 1500 Palestinian political prisoners and detainees held in Israeli prisons and detention centers began an open hunger strike on 17 April 2017. The call for a hunger strike came as a result of Israeli’s policies and practices towards political prisoners. The hunger striking prisoners’ demands include: an end to the transfer of Palestinian prisoners from the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) into prisons in Israel; regular family visits; proper medical care; an end to Israel’s practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial in so-called administrative detentions; and stopping the use of solitary confinement.
___Punitive measures imposed on hunger strikers have included: the denial of family visits; denial of recreational time; denial of access to the “canteen” (prison store); prohibition from participating in group prayers on Fridays; seizure of salt during the first days of the strike; and. . .
___As a result of the hunger strike, Palestinian prisoners have been subjected to violent and coercive measures and policies by Israeli Prison Service and special units to push prisoners and detainees to end their hunger strikes. Addameer Prisoner Support & Human rights Association visited non-striking prisoners in Remon and Meggido prison on 4 May 2017.        MORE . . .

[. . . .] reflecting on the ethical dilemmas posed to the medical profession by the prisoners’ hunger-strike, Professor Avinoam Reches, chairperson of the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) Ethics’ Committee, called for a joint action of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the Ministry of Health (MOH), the IMA and human rights’ organizations. He called on them to work together in order to formulate a treatment policy for hunger-strikers in Israeli prisons, thus avoiding putting all the pressure of difficult decisions on the individual physician. In arguing for his proposal, Reches depicted the main ethical dilemma for the physician as a choice between respecting the rights of his/her patient’s—the hunger striking prisoner—to autonomy, and the sanctity of life. ‘This is a collision between two basic ethical principles: the value of autonomy and the right of the individual to decide on his body, up to the point that he can commit suicide as an expression of his free will; and the value of the sanctity of life, which for its supporters weighs more than the desire to die by any means, including by hunger.’
___In posing the ethical dilemma facing physicians as the tension between the principle of individual autonomy and the sanctity of life, Reches adopts the same liberal perspective that inspires the Malta 2006 declaration, signed by Israel, which broadly placed the question of how physicians should act in cases of hunger-strikes in the context of the tensions between two fundamental bioethical principles: autonomy versus sanctity of life. The declaration gave clear priority to the former, thus disallowing the practice of forced-feeding (World Medical Association). While the tension between these two principles is undoubtedly one of the central dilemmas presented to health practitioners dealing with hunger-strikes, we argue that limiting the ethical question to this tension obstructs and limits the ethical discussion.    FULL ARTICLE . . .

  • Filc, Dani, et al. “Palestinian Prisoners’ Hunger-Strikes in Israeli Prisons: Beyond the Dual-Loyalty Dilemma in Medical Practice and Patient Care.” Public Health Ethics, vol. 7, no. 3, Nov. 2014, pp. 229-238.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network   
May 3, 2017
Student groups at the University of Manchester in England and Edinburgh University in Scotland have launched solidarity hunger strikes in support of the Palestinian prisoners’ strike for freedom and dignity that have now extended for days of action in support of the prisoners’ struggle. Their campaign is now spreading across Europe, with activists in Madrid, Turin, Brussels, London and elsewhere joining growing solidarity strikes that highlight the prisoners’ demands and their urgent calls for support.
___After 1500 Palestinian prisoners launched their hunger strike on 17 April for a series of demands, including an end to the denial of family visits, the right to access distance higher education, appropriate medical care and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, protests across Palestine and around the world have demanded freedom for Palestinian prisoners and urged the immediate implementation of their demands. Now in their 17th day without food, strikers are facing harsh repression – including denial of legal visits, frequent transfers, and isolation of strike leaders – inside Israeli prisons.
___In Palestine, a number of solidarity hunger strikes and fasts have been organized to support the prisoners, including a large one-day strike in Gaza, a five-day strike by Lina Khattab and fellow Bir Zeit University students who are themselves former prisoners, and ongoing open-ended solidarity strikes in the protest tents in Qalqilya, Jenin, Nablus and elsewhere. A call has been issued from Palestine for a day-long solidarity strike by artists and other cultural workers on 3-4 May, linking with ongoing art actions by Decolonize this Place in support of the strikers.      MORE . . .
“European Hunger Strike Seeks to Strengthen Palestine Prisoners, Expose Israeli Apartheid.” TeleSUR English. May 5, 2017.    MORE . . . .
“Thousands rally to back Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike.” ABCNews. By Mohammed Draghmeh, Associated Press. May 3, 2017.    MORE . . . .  
“A thousand Palestinian prisoners are on a hunger strike. This woman is fighting for their rights.” Washington Post. By Ruth Eglash. April 27, 2017.     MORE . . . .

“THE WAY,” by Fouzi El-Asmar

I shall not despair;
Whether my way leads to a jail,
under the sun
or in exile
I shall not despair.

It is my right to behold the sun
To demolish the tent and banishment
To eat the fruit of the olive
To water the vineyards
with music
To sing of Love
in Jaffa, in Haifa
To sow the fertile land
with new seeds
It is my right.

Let my way be
The reaching of one hand to another
That a tower of dreams be built.

This is my way
And if the last price to pay
is my sight
my life
I shall
but will not give up
my way.

El Asmar, Fouzi. POEMS FROM AN ISRAELI PRISON. Intro. By Israel Shahak. New York: KNOW Books, 1973.  Available from Amazon.
About Fouzi El Asmar.

University of Manchester students demonstrate their solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners (Photo: BDS Campaign – University of Manchester)

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