On Wednesday, October 20, Palestinians staged a protest at the al-Manara square in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank in solidarity with six prisoners who are on hunger strike against their illegal administrative detention in Israeli jails, reported Al Jazeera. Several Palestinian civil society groups and prisoner rights groups participated in the protest, along with the families of those who are on hunger strike. They called for immediate and unconditional release of the six prisoners and expressed fear about their health.
The six prisoners are Kayed Fasfous, on hunger strike for the last 100 days, Miqdad al-Qawasmi (92 days), Alaa al-Araj (76 days), Hisham Abu Hawwash, (66 days), Shadi Abu Aker (58 days) and Ayyad al-Hraimi (28 days). All have suffered deterioration in their health, with the first four prisoners being shifted to nearby hospitals. Al-Qawasmi is currently in the ICU of the Israeli Kaplan hospital near Ramle, while Fasfous is at the Israeli Barzilai hospital in Asqalan. The two are in the most serious condition. Fasfous has reportedly lost more than half of his body weight of 95 kg (209 pounds), and according to his brother, is in a “very dangerous condition” and could die at any moment.
Al-Qawasmi’s condition is also critical and according to his lawyer Jawad Boulous, “faces sudden death” after having refused food and drink for more than three months. Al-Araj and Hawwash, who were earlier being given medical treatment at the prison clinic at Ramle prison, were transferred to Israeli hospitals on Tuesday following a severe decline in their health. Al-Araj’s mother, Nabila, was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that her son is “on the verge of death” and is not able to stand up, with the doctors reportedly worried about issues with his nervous system.
During the protest, Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, said, “We are standing in front of a very dangerous scenario today. We are calling for national mobilization – in the occupied West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem and the 1948-occupied territories. Israel wants to turn us into a population that asks for civil rights, not national rights. This battle that our heroes are undergoing is every Palestinian’s battle.” Just last week, 400 Palestinian prisoners embarked on a mass hunger strike against tighter restrictions imposed on them by the prison authorities in the aftermath of the Gilboa prison break by six Palestinian prisoners in September.
In the beginning of October, one of the recaptured prisoners from the Gilboa prison break had gone on hunger strike against the cruel treatment meted out to him following his rearrest. The Israeli authorities had cracked down on all prisoners in retaliation for the prison break, imposing severe punitive measures like mass prison transfers, solitary confinement, revoking family visit privileges and canteen access. Many prisoners were placed under administrative detention orders, based on which they can be detained for indefinite periods of time without charge or trial. Currently, there are approximately 520 Palestinians being held under the policy of administrative detention out of a total of 4,650 Palestinian prisoners, including 35 women and 200 children.