Home / Press Releases / Seven prisoners continue their hunger strikes despite increasing punitive measures

Seven prisoners continue their hunger strikes despite increasing punitive measures

19th February 2014 | Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association | Ramallah, Occupied Palestine

Seven Palestinian prisoners continue their individual hunger strikes as prison conditions worsen. This is the highest number of strikes since September 2013.

(Art by Hafez Omar)

(Art by Hafez Omar)

Earlier this week, Addameer lawyer Samer Sama’an gained access to two of the three administrative detainees who started hunger strikes in early January in protest of Israel’s policy of indefinite detention without charge or trial. The widespread practice of imprisoning Palestinians under administrative detention orders is illegal according to international law.

Adv. Sama’an was able to visit Mo’ammar Banat and Akram Fasisi about the punitive measures carried out against them in reaction to their decision to hunger strike since 9 January 2014. Banat, a 26 year-old from Arroub Refugee camp, has been held under multiple administrative detention orders since 13 August 2013. Fasisi, a 31 year-old from Ithna village who previously carried out a 59-day strike in 2013, has suffered from poor health throughout his imprisonment.

Banat and Fasisi explained that on the first day of their announced hunger strike, they were immediately transferred to cold and humid isolation cells.Despite the cold weather, all of Banat and Fasisi’s belongings and blanketswere confiscated. They were denied the right to shower for the first ten days of their strikes.

They described that their isolation cells were 2×2 meters in size, only contained a small pit in the floor for them to relieve themselves, and were monitored by Israeli Prison Service (IPS) cameras 24-hours a day. It should be noted that these cameras, along with all other surveillance equipment throughout Israeli prisons, is provided by British-Danish security company G4S.

Banat and Fasisi also told Addameer that as punitive measures, they have been denied recreational hours in the yard, family visits, the ability to purchase basic supplies and goods from the prison canteen, and have been subject to frequent night raids and searches.

Banat and Fasisi report that they were transferred to Sha’are Zedek Medical Center on the fifteenth day of their strikes along withWaheed Abu Maria and Ameer Shammas, two other prisoners who are also on strike against their unlawful administrative detention. Abu Maria, a 46 year-old father from the village of Beit Ummar, has been held illegally since October 2012. Like Banat and Fasisi, he began his most recent hunger strike on 9 January 2014. Shammas, a 22 year-old from Hebron, began his strike on 11 January 2014 to protest his administrative detainment that began in September of 2013.

Banat, Fasisi, Abu Maria, and Shammas were then taken Ramleh Prison Clinic. Although the hunger strikers have reported that they are suffering from critical health conditions, including fatigue, exhaustion, severe headaches, joint pain, chest pain, and shortness of breath, Fasisi and Banat report that all of them consistently refuse medical treatment. They describe that the IPS officers shackle the prisoners’ hands and feet to the hospital beds, and that all four of them are occasionally transferred to solitary confinement cells in Ramleh Prison Clinic as punishment for their continued hunger strike.

Two other hunger strikers in Megiddo Prison also reported horrific treatment since the start of their strikes. Husam Omar and Mousa Soufian were arrested in 2002, but were interrogated for 50 consecutive days beginning on 17 June 2013. They were presented with a new list of charges, and were placed in isolation cells on 20 September 2013 until their hunger strike. They began open hunger strikes on 25 January 2014 in protest of the isolation policy. They were also subjected to punitive measures including denial of family visits, isolation in a 2×3 meter cell, confiscation of property, and daily searches despite being in completely empty cells. Most of the raids occur between midnight and 3am, they described. In addition, Soufian has developed an unidentified lump on his neck during his imprisonment.

In recent days, other lawyers have visited the hunger strikers and informed Addameer that the men have been moved to other hospitals. Further developments will be available after 20 February 2014.

The Israeli Prison Service has recommended to the Knesset to consider new legislature that would allow for the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike. This bill has been widely condemned by human rights and health organizations, including Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, who describes the bill as “clearly designed to subdue the prisoners.” In light of Israel’s new policy, Addameer calls for expedited intervention from international organizations and bodies in order to protect Palestinian hunger strikers from this cruel practice.

Basic Information on the Hunger Strikers:

  • Akram Fasisi (31 years old, Ithna, Hebron) has been on administrative detention since 16 November 2012, and his administrative detention order has been renewed three consecutive times. He started his first hunger strike on 29 September 2013 for 59 days before ending it due to deteriorating health. He announced a new hunger strike on 9 January 2014, and is currently held in Ramleh Prison Clinic.
  • Waheed Abu Maria (46 years old, BeitUmmar, Hebron) has been on administrative detention since 30 October 2012, and his administrative detention order has been renewed five consecutive times. He started his hunger strike in protest of this policy on 9 January 2014.
  • Mo’ammar Banat (26 years old, Arroub Refugee Camp) has been on administrative detention since 13 August 2013, and his administrative detention order has been renewed twice. He started his hunger strike on 9 January 2014 in protest of administrative detention. He is currently detained in Ramleh Prison Clinic.
  • Ameer Shammas (22 years old, Ras Al Jora, Hebron) has been on administrative detention since 2 September 2013 and started his hunger strike on 11 January 2014. He was initially in Megiddo Prison before being transferred to Ramleh Prison Clinic and finally to Assaf Harove, where he is currently detained.
  • Abdul Majeed Khdeirat (45 years old, Tubas) was arrested on 15 May 2013 at a checkpoint near Nablus, after being released in the 2011 prisoner exchange deal. This is not his first hunger strike, he went on hunger strike for  95 days in 2013 in protest of his re-arrest, in which he was promised a speedy trial. He started his hunger strike on 15 January 2014 in protest of his re-arrest and the delay in his trial. He is currently being held in Ramleh Prison Clinic after being held in isolation in Megiddo.
  • Husam Omar (30 years old, Tulkarem) was arrested on 26 February 2002 and sentenced to thirty years. He was re-interrogated for 50 days beginning on 17 June 2013 and presented with a new list of charges. On 30 September 2013 was transferred to an isolation cell in Megiddo Prison. He started his hunger strike on 25 January 2014 in protest of his indefinite period of isolation. He is currently held in isolation in Megiddo Prison.
  • Musa Soufian (Tulkarem) was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to life. He was also re-interrogated in late 2013 with Husam Omar and issued a new list of charges. He started his hunger strike on 25 January 2014 in protest of his imprisonment in isolation beginning on 30 September 2013. He is currently detained in Ramleh Prison Clinic.

ACT NOW!

*Write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand the release of the prisoners on hunger strike.

  • Brigadier General Danny Efroni
    Military Judge Advocate General
    6 David Elazar Street
    Harkiya, Tel Aviv
    Israel
    Fax: +972 3 608 0366; +972 3 569 4526
    Email: [email protected]; [email protected]
  • Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon
    OC Central Command Nehemia Base, Central Command
    Neveh Yaacov, Jerusalam
    Fax: +972 2 530 5741
  • Minister of Defense Moshe Smilansky
    Ministry of Defense
    37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
    Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
    Fax: +972 3 691 6940 / 696 2757
  • Col. Eli Bar On
    Legal Advisor of Judea and Samaria PO Box 5
    Beth El 90631
    Fax: +972 2 9977326