“. . . The silence is so loud that our hearts bleed . . .” (Samia Khoury)

solidrity strikers
Palestinian women hold portraits of loved ones in Israeli prison during a protest in support of hunger-striking prisoners in the West Bank city of Nablus on May 4, 2017. (Photo: Ayman Ameen, APA images)

❶ Hunger Strike Continues For The 34th Day

  •  Personal Reflection – Samia Khoury

❷ On 34th day of hunger strike, prisoners transferred to Israeli civilian hospital
❸ Background issues: Treatment of hunger strikers raises concern amongst rights organizations
❹ Starving with their sons
❺ Opinion/Analysis:  Editorial Negotiate With the Palestinian Hunger Strikers
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International Middle East Media Center – IMEMC 
May 20, 2017
Around 1600 Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel, continue the hunger strike for the 34th consecutive day, determined to achieve their demands, while Israel continues to refuse to hold serious talks, and instead, is trying to divide them, in addition to punishing many by forcing them into solitary confinement, and repeatedly transferring many to different prisons.
___The Media Committee of the Palestinian Detainees Committee has reported that the “Freedom and Dignity” strike is going through one of the most serious and sensitive stages, and that the detainees are determined to continue until achieving their demands.
___It said that the Israeli government has appointed the head of the Shabak, and the Prison Authority, to do whatever is possible to end the hunger strike before U.S. President Donald Trump visits the region, “even if this means adhering to most of the detainees’ demands.”   MORE . . .

Reflections from Palestine: A Journey of Hope
May 20, 2017
Dear Friends: How would you feel if your son or daughter went on a hunger strike demanding justice for more than a month, and nobody bothered to call you or check on you and your beloved one? The silence is so loud that our hearts bleed with those mothers who are gathering daily in various areas including the Red Cross offices in the Palestinian Territories. Yet there is no reaction or action from the Israeli authorities or the international community to respond to their demands for basic rights as political prisoners, in accordance to the Geneva Convention. So many of those political prisoners have been under administrative detention without any charge or trial.      MORE . . . .

Ma’an News Agency  
May 20, 2017
As some 1,300 Palestinian prisoners entered the 34th day of a mass hunger strike on Saturday, a group of prisoners were transferred to an Israeli civilian hospital after refusing water and falling into a critical health condition, while Palestinian prisoners have remained united against the strike’s leadership.
___The Israel Prison Service (IPS) transferred a group of Palestinian hunger strikers to Israel’s Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon city in southern Israel, after the prisoners gradually stopped drinking water and their health conditions reached a critical stage, according to the committee formed to support the hunger strikers.
[. . . .]   According to reports, up until this point, Palestinian hunger strikers have been transferred to prison field hospitals — sites which many fear will be used to force feed the hunger strikers en masse.    MORE . . .
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association 

May 8, 2017
On April 17, 2017, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners launched a hunger strike in protest against their severe conditions of incarceration and other violations of their human rights. Their demands comply with international human rights and humanitarian law . . . . Nevertheless, since the declaration of the strike, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has taken various punitive actions against the hunger-strikers, including placing prisoners in solitary confinement and preventing them from meeting with lawyers. . . . These measures stand in direct contradiction of the 2016 Concluding Observations of the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), which has called on Israel to “guarantee that persons deprived of liberty who engage in hunger strikes are never subjected to ill-treatment or punished for engaging in a hunger strike” (para. 27).  The hunger strikers’ demands cover a wide range of issues, including . . . . MORE . . .

Palestinians in London launch a solidarity hunger strike and protest outside House of Parliament in London, UK. (Photo: May 4, 2017, Middle East Monitor)

The Electronic Intifada
Maram Humaid
May 19,2017
Latifa al-Naji Abu Humaid’s family are worried about her health. They are trying to convince the 70-year-old that she should start eating again. But Latifa is determined to continue refusing food in solidarity with her sons who are undertaking a hunger strike behind Israeli bars.
___“I cannot eat while my sons are starving,” said Latifa, who lives in al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah, a city in the occupied West Bank. “If they end the hunger strike, I will too.”
___Four of Latifa’s sons have been in prison since 2002. All affiliated to al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of the Fatah organization, they have been convicted of various charges and sentenced to multiple life sentences for their roles in planning and helping carry out suicide bombings and other armed operations.
___The four have joined the mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners.  MORE . . . 
❺ Opinion/Analysis:  NEGOTIATE  WITH  THE  PALESTINIAN  HUNGER STRIKERS       Is it really in Israel’s interest to descend into a third intifada instead of listening to the prisoners? 
Haaretz Editorial  
May 21, 2017
Despite a lack of interest among Israelis, the hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners entered its 35th day on Sunday. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan hasn’t tried to resolve the strike through negotiations with the prisoners over their demands. Instead he has tried to break the strikers and end the action by force.
___Erdan has been threatening to force-feed the strikers. He has stuck by this approach even though the Israel Medical Association has said it will refuse to carry out force-feeding. Erdan is even willing to bring in doctors from abroad for this purpose. . . .
___Such efforts have failed. Now it appears that the nonviolent protests have spread beyond the prison walls to the Palestinian street, but violently. If the government doesn’t quickly come to its senses and find a way to deal with the strike, hundreds of prisoners could die. About 850 prisoners are currently striking and their health continues to decline.
___Force-feeding is an indecent practice that violates medical ethics. Some people view it as torture in every respect.      MORE . . .

“. . . the story of a humanitarian tragedy: the forced displacement of some 800,000 Palestinians . . .” (Al-Hourriah)

Palestinian refugees leaving the Galilee in October–November 1948 (Photo: Public Domain)

❶ ― (ᴀ) Palestinians mark 69th ‘Nakba’ anniversary with rallies
❶ ― (ᴃ) Israeli forces suppress Nakba day rallies in Bethlehem, Ramallah
❷ 29 Days of Hunger Strike: Commercial strike in the West Bank; Barghouthi, Sa’adat receive legal visits
❸ ― (ᴀ) Athens protests and actions support Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike, struggle for freedom
❸ ― (ᴃ) Irish Republican prisoners’ statement of solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners
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Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA

May 15, 2017
Twenty eight days of hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the 69th Nakba anniversary were the focus of the three Arabic dailies on Monday.
[. . . .]___ The papers also said the strike coincides with the anniversary of the Nakba (catastrophe), which marks 69 years since the dispersal of the Palestinian people and uprooting from their homes and land in historic Palestine in 1948.      MORE . . .  

❶ ― (ᴀ) PALESTINIANS MARK 69TH ‘NAKBA’ ANNIVERSARY WITH RALLIES:  Protests and vigils in occupied West Bank, Gaza and Israel as Palestinians mark forced displacement from lands in 1948.
Al Jazeera English
May 15, 2017
Palestinians are commemorating the 69th anniversary of the “Nakba”, the “day of catastrophe” in which Israel was officially declared a state following the forced removal of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and the destruction of over 500 villages and towns.
___People across historic Palestine – including Israel, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip – are holding rallies, marches and candlelight vigils on Monday, as well as sounding sirens.
___Israel has made publicly commemorating the Nakba increasingly difficult for Palestinians, with a “Nakba Law” that authorises Israel’s finance minister to revoke funding from institutions that reject Israel’s character as a “Jewish state” or mark the country’s “Independence Day” as a day of mourning.     MORE . . .
Ma’an News Agency  
May 15, 2017
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces cracked down on Palestinians commemorating the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” on Monday, with several Palestinians sustaining gunshot injuries and suffering from severe tear gas inhalation during marches in Bethlehem and Ramallah.
___At least three people were hospitalized after Israeli forces violently suppressed a Nakba march in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem around midday Monday, with one march participant describing the use of force as one of “the worst (tear) gas experiences” they had witnessed in the city in five years.
___Witnesses told Ma’an the Israeli forces were deliberately launching tear gas canisters directly at demonstrators on the main street in northern Bethlehem where the march culminated, and continued to shoot tear gas at those attempting the escape, causing numerous people to suffer from tear gas suffocation.    MORE . . .


Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network 
May 15, 2017
As Palestinians and their supporters around the world mark the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, the catastrophe of the occupation of Palestine and the forced displacement of over 750,000 Palestinian refugees from their homes, lands and villages by Zionist forces, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails enter their 29th day of hunger strike on 15 May 2017.       ___Palestinian prisoners have a long history of hunger strikes in Israeli prisons, stretching back to 1968. This strike, the Strike of Freedom and Dignity, was launched on 17 April 2017, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, by approximately 1,500 out of the total 6,300 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. They are demanding basic human rights, including an end to the denial of family visits, proper health care and medical treatment, the right to pursue distance higher education and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.    MORE . . .

Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags during a Nakba protest in Ramallah (Photo: Ma’an News Agency, May 15, 2017)

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network      
May 15, 2017
Organizers in Athens, Greece have organized a series of actions in support of Palestinian political prisoners. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network in Athens has participated in protests, marches and contingents to express solidarity from Greece to all Palestinian prisoners, and to the 1500 prisoners who launched the Strike for Freedom and Dignity on 17 April 2017, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.    MORE . . .     
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network  
May 15, 2017
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is honored to republish the following statement from Irish republican prisoners in Maghaberry Jail. Throughout the history of the Irish and Palestinian struggles, these movements have extended their support and solidarity to one another. Nowhere has this solidarity been more poignant than inside Israeli and British colonial jails, as Palestinian and Irish hunger strikers and political prisoners expressed their joint commitment to liberation struggle. The 1981 message from Palestinian prisoners in Nafha to the H-Block strikers continues to powerfully resonate today.  MORE . . . .             RELATED . . . .         RELATED . . . .  

Historical Note

May 15, 2017
The term “Nakba” (“catastrophe” in Arabic) conjures up memories of two pivotal events in Palestinian history: the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the expulsion of some 800,000 Palestinians from their ancestral homeland.
___The word has not only come to symbolize the tragedy that befell Palestinians in 1948, but also of the trials and tribulations the people of Palestine continue to endure under Israel’s decades-long occupation.
___The Nakba is the story of a humanitarian tragedy: the forced displacement of some 800,000 Palestinians and the destruction of most of Palestine’s political, economic and cultural heritage to make way for the self-proclaimed Jewish state.    MORE . . .

“. . . “Since . . . 1967, Israeli forces have arrested more than 800,000 Palestinians . . . 20% of the total Palestinian population . . . .” (Addameer)

Palestinian protesters during a demonstration in Bethlehem to show their support for Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails after hundreds of detainees launched a hunger strike, April 17, 2017. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

❶  Israeli authorities continue attempts to break [prisoners’] mass hunger strike on 24th day
❷ The Prisoners’ Revolt: The Real Reasons behind the Palestinian Hunger Strike

  • The Economic Exploitation of Palestinian Prisoners
  • On Administrative Detention
  • The Impact of Parental Detention on the Psychological Wellbeing of Palestinian Children
  • Israel’s Policy Of Administrative Detention

❹ POETRY by Fouzi El Asmar

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Ma’an News Agency    
May 10, 2017
RAMALLAH — As some 1,600 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons entered their 24th day of a mass hunger strike on Wednesday, the prisoners have reported severe health deterioration — including several hunger strikers coughing up blood — and continued repressive measures imposed on the prisoners by the Israel Prison Service (IPS).
___Israeli authorities have also escalated their delegitimization campaign against Marwan Barghouthi, an imprisoned Fatah figure and the primary leader of the strike.     ___Palestinian prisoners are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.       MORE . . .

Palestine Chronicle      
Ramzy Baroud
May 3 2017
Gaza is the world’s largest open air prison. The West Bank is a prison, too, segmented into various wards, known as areas A, B and C.  In fact, all Palestinians are subjected to varied degrees of military restrictions. At some level, they are all prisoners.
___East Jerusalem is cut off from the West Bank, and those in the West Bank are separated from one another.
[. . . .] ___Palestinians ‘lucky’ enough to escape the handcuffs and shackles are still trapped in different ways.
[. . . .]  This is why the issue of prisoners is a very sensitive one for Palestinians. It is a real and metaphorical representation of all that Palestinians have in common.
___The protests igniting across the Occupied Territories to support 1,500 hunger strikers are not merely an act of ‘solidarity’ with the incarcerated and abused men and women who are demanding improvements to their conditions.
___Sadly, prison is the most obvious fact of Palestinian life; it is the status quo; the everyday reality.     MORE . . .

More than 100 Palestinian children are in Israeli prisons are aged between 12 and 15. April 24, 2016. (Getty Images)


Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
February 2017
This report addresses the economic aspects of the imprisonment of over 800,000 Palestinians since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, with a particular focus on the role that prisons play in the maintenance of the regime of occupation, from 1985 until the present.    MORE. . . .

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
December 2015
Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. Although administrative detention is used almost exclusively to detain Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), which includes the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, Israeli citizens and foreign nationals can also be held as administrative detainees by Israel (over the years, only 9 Israeli settlers have been held in administrative detention) . . . .
___Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967, Israeli forces have arrested more than 800,000 Palestinians, constitute almost 20% of the total Palestinian population in the occupied Palestinian territories.       MORE . . .

Plos ONE, vol. 10, no. 7, 17
Amer Shehadeh, et al.  July 2015, pp. 1-11.
For about one quarter to one third of the young children whose fathers were in prison, mothers reported scores above the threshold, showing they had severe psychological problems (SDQ) and severe symptoms of posttraumatic stress (UCLA-PTSD-RI). These percentages are much higher than in the control group of children whose fathers were not detention (table 3). Logistic regression analyses confirm the large impact of father’s detention onto young children’s psychological wellbeing      MORE. . . .  

Directorate-General For External Policies Of The [European] Union Policy Department
May 10, 2012.
[. . . . ] In Israel, the Ministry of Defence issues the administrative detention order, to be implemented by the Israeli executive power. Administrative detentions are usually secret orders for six months periods of incarceration, and can be renewed indefinitely. In some cases, prisoners have been held without charge or trial for several years. The practice is based on three pieces of legislation, each of which applies in a different area (the West Bank, the territory of Israeli and the Gaza Strip)      MORE . . .

Beloved, you ask me
Of life in this prison, this cell
what of the chains
chafing my wrists
what of my food and drink
and the comrades of my cell?

Beloved, let me tell you:
Our clouds are indeed heavy
But our being here
is a smile of spring,
The shock of thunder
in autumn, after draught.
We are not defeated
Like our jailers.

Life in this prison, this cell
is a palm tree impregnated
at the dawn.
My chains are the round
echo of a muezzin,
Their clank is the ringing
of my people’s bells.

Beloved, you ask me
of the meaning of my food
Here beloved
we grow like the wild flowers.

And what of
my comrades in this cell? you ask
They are the twenty candles
lighting the darkness of this cell
The twenty songs
shaking the walls of this cell
The twenty revolutions
that will eternalize this cell
And we, beloved
we shall not be stopped.  (June, 1970)

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

“. . . To put me in prison, as they did, is a very easy thing . . .” (Rashid Hussein)

Blindfolded Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention facility. 46 Palestinians at Etzion Prison on hunger strike to protest mistreatment. Mar. 4, 2016 (File Photo: PressTV)

❶ Palestinian prisoners declare 3-day hunger strike after death of fellow detainee
. . . ❶ ― (ᴀ)  Samidoun demands accountability for Israeli medical neglect in the death of Palestinian prisoner Yasser Hamdouna

  • Background from Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly

❷ Detainees Committee: “Israeli Soldiers Kidnapped 1000 Children This Year”
. . . ❷ ― (ᴀ)  Pilot programme to limit night arrests – update
POETRY by Rashid Hussein
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Ma’an News Agency
Sept. 25, 2016
Palestinian prisoners held by Israel announced a three-day hunger strike in protest and mourning after a fellow detainee died in Israeli custody on Sunday morning following a fatal stroke.
___Residents of the occupied West Bank village of Yaabad in the Jenin district, said that Yasser Thiyab Hamduna, a 41-year-old Palestinian from the village, died of a stroke on Sunday in the Israeli prison of Ramon.
___Israel Prison Service (IPS) spokesman Assaf Librati confirmed to Ma’an that a Palestinian prisoner held in Ramon had had a “heart attack or stroke,” and was pronounced dead by medics at around 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.
___Local sources in Yaabad said that Hamduna, who was serving a 14-year prison sentence, had been suffering from a number of health issues, including shortness of breath, heart problems, and ear pains.       MORE . . . 
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network    
Sept. 25, 2016
Palestinian prisoner Yasser Diab Hamdouna, 41, died on Sunday morning, 25 September, in Israeli Ramon prison
[. . . .]  Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network condemns the ongoing medical neglect and mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli occupation prisons and demands the immediate release of the sick prisoners in Israeli jails.
[. . . .]  Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network affirms the responsibility of the Israeli occupation state for the medical neglect, mistreatment and death of Yasser Hamdouna and dozens of fellow Palestinian prisoners . . .  and demand international accountability for the death of Hamdouna and the ongoing threats to Palestinian prisoners’ lives due to medical neglect.     MORE . . .  

  • OMAR, SA’ED. “Food Is Not Our Issue”: Reflections On Hunger Striking.” Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 37.2 (2014): 556-559.    FULL ARTICLE.  

It’s impossible to ignore the smell of meat when you are dying from hunger.
___But food is not our issue. We don’t live to eat. We eat to live. If your life is without dignity, you don’t need life. That’s how we look at things in prison.
___Even in prison, you are home. Being restricted from entering Palestine is our greatest fear, to be deported or prevented from going home. The Prison Administration offered to deport us, to Jordan, to Syria, anywhere we wanted. They offered us freedom if we would leave Palestine. But we preferred jail to freedom outside of Palestine.
___This is the life we live here. We have a government that doesn’t support its own people. It just chases its political and economic projects.
___And a few people who fight every day for their freedom.
___And over our heads, Occupation.

International Middle East Media Center – IMEMC   
September 25, 2016
The Palestinian Detainees Committee reported Saturday that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped at least 1000 children, between the ages of 11 and 18, since the beginning of this year. Testimonies from six detained children are included in this report.
___In a press release, the committee said that the numbers showed an %80 increase when compared to the number of child abducted in the same period of 2015.
___It stated that some of the kidnapped children have been imprisoned under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, without charges or trial, while many others were sent to court, faced high fines and even were sentenced to actual prison terms.       MORE . . .   

On International Children’s Day, Israel Kidnaps 400 Palestinian Children. Nov. 22, 2015 (Photo: IMEMC News)

Military Court Watch
Sept. 22, 2016
Following widespread criticism of the use of night raids to arrest children in the West Bank, the military authorities announced in February 2014, the introduction of a pilot programme to issue written summonses in lieu of night arrests.
___The programme commenced operation in the Nablus and Hebron districts but was temporarily suspended in or about September 2014 due to “increased violence”. At the time of the suspension the military authorities stated that they did not keep any statistics during the initial operation of the programme making any official assessment impossible.
[. . . .]  During the course of 2016 there appears to have been a sharp decrease in the use of summonses which are currently being issued in just 2 per cent of cases documented by MCW. Meanwhile, the practice of arresting children at night is currently unchanged and remains at 2013 levels.     MORE . . . 

Don’t be sad, Darling!
To put me in prison, as they did, is a very easy thing!
But what can they do about the sun
Shining outside and torturing new rebels?

I should like to be romantic and say to you:
If my being in jail
Did nothing more than bring you to visit me
And cry in my arms ―
Then my arrest was not in vain.

But I’m not feeling romantic right now!
(How can one be romantic with the bedbugs
having such a feast?)
I’m just scratching away, and writing to you,
And asking myself this banal question:
If I and others don’t go to prison,
How will the prison guard
Feed his children?

Darling! I would so like for us
To have a baby!
We spoke of it once,
But I don’t know if
We’ll ever be given the chance.
That is why, for the time being, I give myself
To thoughts about the babies of others
Including my enemies’ babies!
And because they cannot understand this simple feeling
They put me here in prison.   

From: Aruri, Naseer and Edmund Ghareeb, eds. ENEMY OF THE SUN: POETRY OF THE PALESTINIAN RESISTANCE. Washington, DC: Drum and Spear Press, 1970.  Available from Amazon.  
Rashid Hussein (1936-1977) was born in Musmus, Palestine. He published his first collection in 1957 and established himself as a major Palestinian poet and orator. He participated in founding the Land Movement in 1959. He left in 1966 and lived in Syria and Lebanon and later in New York City where he died in February, 1977. He was buried a week later in Musmus. His funeral was attended by thousands of Palestinians