Some 2,300 Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails went on hunger strike Tuesday to commemorate “Palestinian Prisoner’s Day” and protest what they claim are inadequate conditions.
According to the Israel Prison Service, around 1,200 prisoners commenced an open-ended hunger strike, while the remaining prisoners declared that they would refuse food on Tuesday as a symbolic expression of solidarity.
Among the demands being made are an end to administrative detention and solitary confinement, visitation rights for families of prisoners from the Gaza Strip, and access to newspapers and more television channels. Prisoners are also protesting unscheduled night searches of their cells and the comprehensive searches their visitors are subject to upon entering the prison.
Eight pro-Palestinian activists that arrived in Israel to participate in the “flytilla” over the weekend and are currently being held at Givon Prison also declared that they will refuse food “in solidarity with the April 17 Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.”
Hunger strikes have become another component in the strategy to embarrass Israel and pressure it to make concessions. They have gained in popularity after the “successful” 67-day hunger strike of Khader Adnan, which ended when Israel agreed to release him upon the expiration of his four-month administrative detention term. Adnan is scheduled to be released Tuesday.
“Palestinian Prisoner’s day” is the latest attempt to load the Palestinian calendar with days of mass mobilization and action. Last year saw violence on Nakba day (a day that marks Israel’s independence as the Palestinians’ ‘catastrophe’), and Naksa day (a day that marks Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War as a Palestinian ‘setback’). Most recently, the Global March to Jerusalem on March 30 – the goal of which was to infiltrate Israel’s borders and counter Israel’s “Judaization” of Jerusalem – saw a tepid turnout and was considered a failure.