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Middle East

Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike

media A woman takes part in a rally to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, in Nablus, West Bank April 11, 2019. REUTERS /Abed Omar Qusini

The Palestinian Authority-run detainees and former detainees’ affairs commission confirmed that the Israeli Prison Service, IPS, has agreed to the demands of Palestinian prisoners who had been on a hunger strike for eight days.

Demands the IPS agreed to meet include installing public phones inside the prisons to allow prisoners to speak with relatives.

Qadri Abu Bakr, a former detainee himself who now heads the commission, added that in negotiations the IPS also agreed to release Palestinian prisoners from solitary confinement in the Naqab prison.

Provocation

Prisoners entered their hunger strikes after the IDP installed jamming devices to prevent prisoners from using smuggled phones back in February.

Often these phones were the sole source of contact to their families.

A hunger strike was then organized among incarcerated prisoners in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

They were prepared to end the strike once certain demands were met including:

  • The installation of public phone in the prisons and removal of jammer devices
  • An end to collective punishments imposed by prison authorities since 2014
  • An end to the ban on family visits imposed on certain prisoners and a return to normal visitations (ie. Twice per month)
  • An end to medical negligence for injured or ill prisoners
  • An end to isolation and solitary confinement
  • Improved conditions and freedom for child prisoners
  • Improved condition on prison transfers
  • Addressing violations of women prisoners’ human rights

Battle of Dignity

Dubbed the Battle of Dignity or Karameh 2, the strike grew among prisoners of the ‘four forces’: the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

According to Samidoun, a network of Palestinian prisoner solidarity, by the second day of its strike, some 400 prisoners were already participating.

The Prisoners’ Affair Committee reported that some prisoners who had joined in on the strike were being transferred to other prisons in retaliation.

Families of the prisoners voiced their support of the strike as they held a protest in Ramallah.

International law

Although correspondence between the prisoners and their families is allowed, often the process takes longer and can be intercepted by Israeli prison authorities for censorship.

The IPS had previously enforced a ban on phone communication for its nearly 5500 Palestinian prisoners.

Under international law, there is a minimum standard for all treatment of prisoners.

This specifically included access to the outside world via both correspondence and by receiving visits as adopted by the first United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.

 

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