NAFHA PRISONERS WILL BE JOINING HUNGER STRIKE
Date: Friday, 14 April 2017
Publication: The News Line
PALESTINIAN prisoners being held inside Israel’s Nafha prison have announced that they will be joining an upcoming mass hunger strike on Monday April 17, Sawt al-Asra (Voice of Prisoners) Radio reported on Wednesday.
The prisoners – who are being held in sections three, four, 10, 13 and 14 of Nafha prison – are affiliated with the Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) movements.
All Fatah-affiliated prisoners had already committed to joining the strike, led by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, scheduled to begin on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. In a statement given to Sawt al-Asra, the Nafha prisoners urged all other Palestinians held in Israeli prisons to join the hunger strike ‘until their humanitarian demands are met.’ Prisoners stressed in their statement that ‘the battle’ would be a step for Palestinian prisoners towards ‘regaining their rights and dignity.’
On Tuesday, head of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe called on all Palestinian factions in Israeli prisons to join the strike, amidst conflicting reports over whether or not prisoners affiliated to other political factions would join as well. After the hunger strike was announced, an Israel Prison Service official reportedly said that they would not respond to any of the prisoners’ demands, while Israel TV reported that Israeli security has expressed fear of a ‘collapse in security conditions’ in prisons during the strike.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan ordered for the establishment of a military hospital to ensure that hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners were not transferred to civilian hospitals – which have so far refused to force feed hunger striking Palestinian prisoners.
While the Israeli Supreme Court recently decided force feeding hunger-striking prisoners was constitutional, Israeli doctors have sided with internationally accepted medical ethics that regard the practice as a form of torture. Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun warned that it was ‘highly possible’ that Erdan’s field hospital proposal ‘is an attempt to impose mass force feeding on striking Palestinian prisoners outside the civilian medical framework.’
Last month, Barghouthi and participating Palestinian prisoners called on the Palestinian public and activists around the world to support them in their upcoming strike, which includes a list of demands such as ending ‘provocative and humiliating’ searches of prisoners, terminating medical negligence inside prisons, and ensuring regular family visits.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 6,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons as of January, 65 per cent of whom are affiliated with the Fatah movement, the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs reported. The Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs reiterated the list of demands of the strike, which were issued by Marwan Barghouthi, who is serving a life sentence in Israeli prison:
1. Install a public telephone for Palestinian detainees in all prisons and sections in order to communicate with their families.
• Resume the second monthly visits for Palestinian prisoners that were halted by the International Committee of the Red Cross last year.
• Ensure the regularity of visits every two weeks without being disabled by any side.
• First and second degree relatives shall not be prevented from visiting the detainee.
• Increase the duration of the visit from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
• Allow the detainees to take pictures with their families every three months.
• Establish facilities to comfort the families of detainees.
• Allow children and grandchildren under the age of 16 to make visits for detainees.
• Shut down the so-called Ramla Prison Hospital, because it does not provide the adequate treatment.
• Terminate Israel’s policy of deliberate medical negligence.
• Carry out periodic medical examinations.
• Perform surgeries to a high medical standard.
• Permit specialised physicians from outside the Israeli Prison Service to treat prisoners.
• Release sick detainees, especially those who have disabilities and incurable diseases.
• Medical treatment should not be at the expense of the detainee.
4. Respond to the needs and demands of Palestinian women detainees, namely the issue of being transported for long hours between Israeli courts and prisons.
• Treat detainees humanely when transporting them.
• Return detainees to prisons after the visiting clinics or courts and do not further detain them at crossings.
• Prepare the crossings for human use and provide meals for detainees.
6. Add satellites channels that suit the needs of detainees.
7. Install air conditioners in prisons, especially in the Megiddo and Gilboa prisons.
8. Restore kitchens in all prisons and place them under the supervision of Palestinian detainees.
9. Allow detainees to have books, newspapers, clothes and food.
10. End the policy of solitary confinement.
11. End the policy of administrative detention.
12. Allow detainees to study at Hebrew Open University.
13. Allow detainees to have Tawjihi exams in an official and agreed manner.
• Thousands of Palestinians marched through Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank for the funeral of 17-year-old Jassem Muhammad Nakhla on Tuesday, a day after the teen succumbed to wounds he sustained on March 23 when he was shot by Israeli forces.
Nakhla died in an Israeli hospital in Tel Aviv after Israeli forces shot him in the head and foot when he was in a vehicle with three other young Palestinians, who the Israeli army accused of throwing Molotov cocktails at the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, located next to al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah city.
One of the other youths, 17-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Hattab, died that day, while the two others, Muhammad Hattab, 18, and Muhammad Moussa Nakhla, 18, were also seriously wounded. Medical sources said on Monday that Nakhla had been clinically dead since he was injured, and had been kept on life support since.
The funeral set off from the Palestine Medical Centre, where mourners carried Nakhleh’s body, wrapped in the Palestinian flag, through the main streets of Ramallah and finally to al-Jalazun. Nakhleh’s body was taken to his family house in the refugee camp, where family members said their final goodbyes before the teen’s body was taken to the camp’s mosque and then to the camp’s cemetery for burial.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) said on Tuesday that they held the Israeli government responsible for Nakhla’s death, with PA spokesman Tariq Rishmawi writing in a statement that Israel was perpetuating its ‘successive crimes’ against the Palestinian people and turning a blind eye to international law. This crime won’t be the last as long as the international community remains silent,’ Rishmawi said of Nakhla’s death.
Rishmawi urged the international community and human rights organisations to coerce Israel into ceasing its ongoing violations against the Palestinian people, especially children. The PA also denounced Israel’s ‘systematic assault’ against Palestinians.
The circumstances of the shooting of the al-Jalazun teens have been highly contested. An Israeli army spokesperson had claimed that the boys were throwing Molotov cocktails at Beit El settlement, and that the three were outside of their car when they were shot. However, locals said at the time that Israeli soldiers in a military tower near the entrance of al-Jalazun fired heavily towards the teens’ vehicle while they were still inside the vehicle, while video and photographic footage taken by locals at the scene following the shooting showed the car riddled with bullets, windows shattered, and blood staining the seats.
When questioned in March about how the teens could have re-entered their car and driven away from the scene after being injured with multiple rounds of live fire to the head and chest, the Israeli army spokesperson said she could not comment. The Israeli army did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday about Nakhla’s passing, nor about whether an Israeli investigation into the shooting had yielded any results.
Nakhla is the 18th Palestinian to be confirmed killed by Israeli forces this year, and marked the fourth time that Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian minor since the beginning of 2017. In all four instances when Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian minor this year, the Israeli army claimed that the teenagers were throwing Molotov cocktails.
However, the Israeli versions of events have been heavily contested. Similar to the al-Jalazun case, video evidence and investigations led rights groups to brand the killing of 17-year-old Qusay Hassan al-Umour in January as unlawful and unjustified. Activists and rights groups have long denounced what they have termed a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death, or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner – amid a backdrop of impunity for Israelis who committed the killings.