Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) has reported that the declaration of more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners going on an open hunger strike in protest of the arbitrary and racist practices carried out by the Israeli authorities raises alarm about the unprecedented level of brutality these prison administrations have reached. Urgent international intervention is now imperative.
AOHR UK explained that since the evening of Thursday, August 17, 2023, approximately 1000 Palestinian prisoners have initiated an open hunger strike in response to increased prison raids, destruction of prisoners’ personal belongings, physical attacks, and harassment. These actions followed directives from the Israeli Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, to tighten restrictions on the prisoners.
AOHR UK noted that this collective decision to go on a hunger strike serves as a form of solidarity and a means to exert pressure on the Israeli prison administration. It came about after 75 prisoners decided to strike due to arbitrary transfers from Negev Prison to Nafha Prison, among other arbitrary measures, including the complete closure of several prison sections, depriving prisoners in those sections of their basic rights.
The organisation pointed out that this recent escalation followed Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to “Ofer” prison, during which he called for more punitive measures against the prisoners. He advocated reducing the number of hours prisoners spend in prison yards and “ending the summer camp conditions enjoyed by terrorists,” which was a clear and explicit incitement to commit further violations of prisoners’ rights and to torment them, despite their international protection as prisoners of war.
AOHR UK also highlighted that this visit was followed by several brutal raids on prisoners’ cells in various Israeli prisons, including Sections 3 and 4 in Negev Prison and the transfer of protesting prisoners held inside it. Additionally, individual transfers affected several members of the prisoners’ movement in “Rimon” prison.
The organisation issued a warning regarding the continuation of the current situation and the international community’s silence concerning the violations of the Israeli occupation against the prisoners. It emphasized that Israeli legislation allowing for forced feeding of hunger-striking prisoners jeopardizes their lives and effectively legalizes their killing.
It should be noted that over the past few months, the Israeli Minister of National Security has taken a series of measures aimed at tightening the noose around the prisoners, including decisions to prevent the release of detainees even after completing their sentences, even if they are sick and in deteriorating health conditions.
AOHR UK affirmed that these measures violate international laws and norms, including the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war, which applies to the situation of Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli prisons.
The total number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons is 4,800, including 170 children and 32 women, with approximately 1,200 held under administrative detention. AOHR UK also noted that since the beginning of this year, the occupation authorities have issued 1,978 administrative detention orders.
The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) declares its full solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in the occupation’s prisons and supports their courageous actions in confronting the oppressive and racist policies continually practiced by the Israeli occupation against them.
AOHR UK calls on the international community to take a decisive and ethical stance to put an end to these escalating violations and to compel the Israeli occupation to respond to the prisoners’ demands and to hold accountable Israeli officials who incite the ignition of this powder keg.