The current hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners is the most challenging step in the third phase of their struggle against the Zionist Ashkenazi Regime (ZAR).
The first is the armed struggle before being captured, wounded, or became martyrs, the second is the battle during capture and interrogation, and the fourth will be following their release and renewing their struggle.
This strike is the longest in terms of duration, while other strikes were shorter, but in some of them the number of participants was larger. The history of Palestinian prisoners’ strike started in parallel with the resistance which took place directly after 1967 occupation and the Zionist continuous arrest campaigns.
The first strike took place in March 1968 in Ramallah jail. One morning, the Zionist police opened the jail doors to call us for breakfast in the jail’s yard. There, in the corner of the yard, was a men covered with a blanket stained with blood spots. I walked close to him and I could hear a weak and low groaning. I talked some comrade prisoners into refusing to eat breakfast. We went back to the rooms and declared a strike until the leadership of the Jail took the man out. It was the first readiness to challenge the enemy in jail, despite of the brutal treatment in Israeli jails at that time. There wasn’t any connection with the outside world. The first time we received a visit by International Red Cross was in April 1968 when the former mayor of the Palestinian city of Al-Bireh Abduljawad Salih pushed them to do so. After the visit our group released from cells and EXems after 120 days.
The second strike was in the Israeli jail of Beit Lead- Kfar Yona in July 1968. It was after the jail administration refused to allow us to receive books and some stationary from our families, in spite of our repeated demands and several discussions with them. We decide to go for a hunger strike. The jail was divided into three parts, A, B and C. To train the prisoners in a gradual manner, we decided that one prisoner from each part has to start hunger strike and after that the rest of prisoners will follow. I was selected to start the hunger strike from part A where I was jailed. Once I did that, the police immediately took me to a solitary cell. I waited for the other two colleagues, but when they did not show up; I decided to continue the strike. On the third day, I decided to refuse drinking water. On the fourth day, the prison police decided to force milk into my throat forcefully by a plastic pipe. After they did that, I decided to vomit the milk. The jail administration sent me to Ramla Prison Hospital. By the tenth day they gave me the first book that was ever allowed to enter an Israeli jail. The title of that book was The Political Parties by Maurice Devorgea, a book that was part of the curriculum at the Lebanese University in Beirut prior to 1967 war.
Month after month and year after another, hunger strikes took place to become the most effective and powerful weapon the Palestinian prisoners use to gain and restore some of their rights regarding treatment, medicine, books, food, visitations …etc.
None of our rights has been liberated or restored easily, none by demand, protest or negotiations, but by bitter struggle. I deliberately meant restored because jails administration continuously cancelled many of our rights and achievements. Accordingly, we re-launch new strikes several times to restore these rights. This might make it obvious that life in jail is a continuous war with the Zionist regime.
Some times the struggle of Palestinian prisoners was supported by the people and some times it was not. It always depended, and still does, on the climate of patriotic struggle and its level.
Oslo as a Turning Point
The Oslo Accords were a turning point for the Palestinian prisoners. They were never a genuine peace agreement, rather an agreement of PLO leadership subjugation to the enemy. These accords never contained a real and clean withdrawal of the occupying Israeli enemy form the 1967 occupied part of Palestine, it is a Self-Rule paralleled with a guaranteed existence of the Zionist army in the West Bank and Gaza strip (WBG).
In relation to prisoners, Oslo Accords contains PLO approval for the Zionist army to enter any area of the WBG any time it feels that it is necessary for the so called “security” of the ZAR. This approval was called the right of “hot chase out”. This means a free hand of the ZAR to arrest any Palestinian under this dangerous item. That is why the number of prisoners will continue to rise, so long as the occupation exists and people continue to resistance.
Oslo Accords did not contain any statement for prisoners’ release. It seems that their case was never discussed. The Palestinian bureaucratic/comprador capitalist leadership was only interested in preserving its own interests. That is why; Oslo Accords which created the Palestinian Authority (PA) was, in essence, a Peace for Capital between the two bourgeoisies. It is a draft of the Zionist extreme right leadership, Netanyahu, Economic Peace.
It is about Time for a Turning Point
So long as the ZAR continues to launch a brutal war against the Palestinian people , especially against the prisoners on the one hand, and that a release of the prisoners is impossible without capturing Zionist soldiers, an occasion that rarely happens, on the other, a different route in dealing with prisoners issue must be found to make their imprisonment more humane, considering the fact that the ZAR has a free hand to arrest more people on daily basis as long as there is no independence and sovereignty for WBG.
The Palestinian, Arab and international protest in support prisoners is great and must continue, but it is not enough. The problem needs an effective plan.
Palestinians who are imprisoned by the ZAR are not citizens for the authority to arrest them; they were captured by their enemy in the resistance field, i.e. war. They are in the hands of an enemy with whom there is no chance for peace. So, their case must be observed and transferred to and sponsored by a neutral body. As long as they are prisoners of war, the UN must be in charged of them.
In the last years of Yasser Arafat, the PA police arrested the General Secretary of PFLP comrade Ahmad Sadat and his four comrades. Based on an agreement between the PA, ZAR and the Quartet, they were transferred to a special jail in Jericho guarded by US/UK police under sponsorship of Quartet. It was a form of a global jail. Later the US/UK police left the jail suddenly and the ZAR police occupied it and captured the prisoners. The person who committed this betrayal was Quartet leader of the former UK imperialism Prime Minister Tony Blaire. Blaire was also the second rank butcher responsible for the occupation, massacres and destruction of Iraq.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) is dominated by western imperialists interfered in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, an intervention that led to massive killings and destruction, and now, they are trying the same strategy to destroy Syria. Thanks to Russia and China which firmly used veto in the UNSC to stop the destruction of Syria. Then why wouldn’t it do one good job: to oblige the ZAR to accept UN control over Israeli jails where Palestinian prisoners of war are?
The issue of Palestinian prisoners is highly applicable to be sponsored by the UN as long as they are in the hands of an enemy. They must be considered as prisoners of war. It must also be noted that ZAR failed to meet UN membership conditions, since full membership in that organization was conditioned by its acceptance (Israel’s) of the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees.
The same apply for Arab League which betrayed several Arab states of its own members and is still “begging” the UNSC to interfere in Syria, it must demand the UN control of Israeli jails.
Since the war with Zionist Entity – Israel is a continuous war, then life in Israeli jails will never ease and human rights of prisoners will never be respected and guaranteed without an international control of those jails.