Families of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike push for more solidarity

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A Palestinian girl holds a banner reading in Arabic: "water and salt" and "Stop Ad" calling for the end of administrative detention as others wave their national flag during a rally in Gaza City on May 16, 2014 after Friday prayers to express solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. (Photo: AFP-Mohammed Abed)

By: Mohammed Marar

Published Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ramallah: Up to 140 Palestinian administrative detainees – Palestinians held without charge or trial in Israeli jails – have now been on hunger strike for 24 days to protest Israel’s policy of administrative detention. The hunger strike continues in conjunction with a popular and official Palestinian show of support, despite the small number of participants and the limited scope of solidarity activities.

One of the hunger strikers is 27-year-old Mahmoud Yousef Abu Dawood from the city of Hebron. Nicknamed the “prisoner groom,” he was arrested earlier this year shortly after his wedding. He is serving an administrative sentence of 6 months, but his brother Ahmed is concerned for his health, especially since Israel does not allow any direct communication with the detainees.

Ahmed Abu Dawood told Al-Akhbar, “The Occupation has shortened visits even for lawyers. The media is the only way to get news about the detainees, whose health is deteriorating.” Ahmed confirmed that he and his family were taking part in the activities held in solidarity with the detainees throughout the Palestinian territories.

Another detainee on hunger strike is Yasser Mansour from Nablus. He has been detained by Israel since the end of 2013, and is serving a second six-month sentence. His brother Dhafir says that the popular and official involvement in support of the detainees’ cause is below expectations, but their family is doing everything they can to support the detainees during their strike. Dhafir pointed out that the members of the family are taking turns in attending solidarity events, saying that the detainee’s relatives were taking shifts between protests and sit-in tents.

He continued, “After work, my brother’s wife spends all her time at the sit-in tent. I also take turns with my brothers in manning the tent so that there’s always someone there.” In a tone marred by a sense of reproach, he then said, “The response of the Palestinian people has been lukewarm vis-à-vis the detainees’ issue. When we go to the sit-in we see only small numbers of people, not more than 20 or 30.”

Mansour called on the government to take advantage of the international recognition of Palestine to sign international treaties that enable Palestinians to defend the rights of prisoners and seek an end to the practice of administrative detention.

Things are more or less the same in Tuklakrem, where Fadwa, the wife of detainee Adnan Khader, has been desperate for any news about her husband and the other detainees. Fadwa’s suffering is triple, since Israel has also deported her eldest son to Jordan, while the Palestinian security services detained her youngest son, who is also on hunger strike.

Fadwa Khader, whose husband has been in detention for nearly a year and a half, expressed deep sorrow for her husband and her sons, saying, “Only my daughters and I are left, and we cannot go to the sit-in tent with the families of the detainees. What we need is international pressure to get all the prisoners released, led by administrative detainees.” She also voiced her discontent over what she called the absence of interest in the detainees’ issue in her city, indicating that solidarity with the prisoners in other cities was much more broad based.

Abdel Aal al-Anani, director of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, said that his organization was collaborating with the families of the detainees on hunger strike to put on a show a support for their relatives, stressing that the families were participating extensively in all events despite their plight and their many worries.

Speaking to Al-Akhbar, Anani said that the burden of supporting the detainees should not be carried by their families alone, adding, “The detainees do not belong to their families alone, but to the Palestinian people. Their cause enjoys unanimous support and it is the collective responsibility of all Palestinian institutions, associations, and unions.” Replying to a question about how effective the events held in solidarity with the detainees are, Anani said, “Solidarity events are taking on a progressively escalating trend and are growing each day. This means that these events have momentum and have an impact.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


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