Palestinian Prisoners Day: Detainees launch hunger strikes as supporters march in solidarity

Palestinian Prisoners Day: Detainees launch hunger strikes as supporters march in solidarity
Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti launched a fresh round of hunger strikes to mark Palestinian Prisoners day after last year saw the largest hunger strike in Palestine's modern history.
3 min read
17 April, 2018
Palestinian women protesting in Ramallah calling for the release of Marwan Barghouti [Getty]
Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli prisons have launched a hunger strike to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day.

Imprisoned Palestinian Marwan Barghouti is leading the new strike, a year after he led the largest prisoners' hunger strike in Palestinian history. Last year's strike began with 1,500 participants with those partaking ingesting only water and salt.

"Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel's illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike," he wrote in his latest New York Times op-ed.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slammed the New York Times for allowing Barghouti to continue writing for them and for allowing the Palestinian leader to express the brutalality of Israeli prisons.

"I read, on Sunday, the article in the New York Times that presents arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti as a 'parliamentarian and leader," Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

"Calling Barghouti a leader and parliamentarian is like calling [Syrian President Bashar] Assad a pediatrician."

In his article, Barghouti likened the new hunger strike to last year's one, saying it is a step forward "in our long walk to freedom".

"This new hunger strike will demonstrate once more that the prisoners' movement is the compass that guides our struggle, the struggle for Freedom and Dignity, the name we have chosen for this new step in our long walk to freedom," he wrote.

Palestinian organisations and supporters used online platforms and various hashtags to call for the release of Palestinian political detainees, with many focusing on Israel's treatment of Palestinian children.

While they may be trapped in cells, we are able to ensure their message is spread far and wide

Palestinian prisoner support group Addameer welcomed the boycott of the the Israeli legal system and the call for a new hunger strike, saying it "salutes the continued struggle of the over 6,000 Palestinian political prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons".

"Addameer calls on all Palestinian human rights organisations to adopt one clear plan with the aim of supporting administrative detainees in their coming steps as to ensure their success. Such support requires national and international solidarity campaigns in order to amplify the voice of the prisoners," the group added.

"While they may be trapped in cells, we are able to ensure their message is spread far and wide. Additionally, we urge the activation of international accountability measures against the Israeli occupation's violations of international humanitarian law."

On Tuesday Palestinians marched in solidarity with prisoners with across the West Bank and Gaza.

A march in Ramallah took place toward the Israeli military checkpoint to the north of the city. Occupying forces fired tear gas and stun grenades at the protesters soon after their arrival, forcing them to disperse.

Rallies were also held in Nablus, Hebron and Bethlehem.

As of March 1, 2018 there are 6,050 Palestinian political prisoners being held in Israeli prisons, with 427 being held as administrative detainees. Up to 356 of the prisoners are children; 62 female prisoners; and seven members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, according to Addameer.