As some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners in the Zionist regime’s jails marked their 24rd day on hunger strike on Tuesday, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs warned that hunger strikers had entered a dangerous stage, reporting that health conditions were deteriorating considerably.
The political 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.
Prisoners have started to fall due to waves of dizziness, severe pains, and weight loss, according to a statement released by the committee on Tuesday.
The statement highlighted that Israeli authorities had prepared ambulances outside of every prison, and said that “the occupation’s government treats hunger strikers with such cruelty and savagery to the extent that it is willing to completely exhaust their health and lead them to death.”
The committee accused the Israel Prison Service (IPS) of harassing hunger strikers on a daily basis. “The Israeli Prison Service carry out inspection raids every day using police dogs, and they spill water on prisoners instead of giving them water to drink,” the statement added.
Many hunger strikers have also landed in solitary confinement or have been transferred multiple times throughout Israel’s network of prisons, faced assault, nightly cell raids, confiscation of personal belongings, subhuman cell conditions, and have even been fined hundreds of shekels as punishment for refusing meals.
However, hunger strikers were still standing firm despite the abuse, hunger, and pain, and were committed to compelling IPS to grant them their rights, according to letter smuggled out of a solitary confinement cell in Ashkelon prison by Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq.
The letter, published by the Gaza-based Asra Media Office, said that the determination of hunger-striking prisoners was “sky-high.”
Al-Qiq was famous for undertaking a grueling 94-day hunger strike in Israeli prison in 2016, and took on a second solitary hunger strike that came to a close in March.
He said in the smuggled letter that he had already lost six kilograms since joining the mass hunger strike five days ago. “Once they have made up their minds to face the occupier with their empty stomachs, heroic prisoners will have the final word,” he affirmed.
Immediately after the strike began, IPS banned lawyer and family visitations for hunger strikers, and for the first 20 days of the strike, lawyers were only given access to Ofer and Askhelon prison.
Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to Palestinian organizations.
According to a prisoners’ rights organization, some 6,300 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of April.