Palestinian Detainees Vow to Keep Up Hunger Strike: 'Death Over Compromise'

Prime Minister Netanyahu looks for way to legally force-feed rather than negotiate with the 100-125 hunger-striking detainees.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
A Palestinian in Gaza presides over a mock prison at a rally for prisoners.
A Palestinian in Gaza presides over a mock prison at a rally for prisoners.Credit: AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The leadership of the Palestinian administrative detainees announced on Monday morning that the detainees are unwilling to compromise in their struggle and that they will continue their hunger strike even if it costs them their lives.

Through their attorney, the detainees sent the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club a letter claiming that the medical teams who are treating the 70 hospitalized detainees were collaborating with the Prisons Service, and that some of the detainees had been chained to their hospital beds.

“The nurses, who are supposed to be angels of mercy, come into our rooms with food to break our spirits, but we will not give up until we accomplish our goal, and we are willing to die for it,” the detainees wrote. “Each one of us has already written his will, and we have sworn that there is no way back.”

Regarding the claim that some of the hospitalized hunger-strikers are chained to their beds, the detainees wrote, “We hear comments such as ‘Crucify them,’ and then their right arms and left legs are chained to the bed 24 hours a day.” They added that most of them are suffering from side effects, that 13 detainees suffer from bleeding and that some are suffering from low blood sugar. “We ask the world how long they will ignore us. Maybe if we die, the world will wake up.”

Israel has 189 people in administrative detention. Between 100 and 125 detainees are participating in the hunger strike, which was declared on April 24. They are drinking water with vitamins, salt and sugar. The medical condition of about 70 of these has deteriorated, and they are hospitalized under heavy guard. From time to time, security prisoners begin solidarity hunger strikes with the administrative detainees in one of the prisons, for a limited time.

Haaretz reported this morning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tough stance on the crisis is based on the recommendations of Shin Bet officials. Netanyahu believes that no compromise must be reached with the detainees, who are demanding that administrative detention be abolished. At the same time, he is working for the quick passing of a law in the Knesset that will allow prisoners on hunger strike to be force-fed.

In several consultations that took place recently, Shin Bet security service chief Yoram Cohen expressed his support of the force-feeding law, saying that it would be an appropriate way to deal with the hunger strike. Cohen’s firm stance encouraged the prime minister to support the law, which has already been approved in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and awaits the continuation of the accelerated legislative procedure in the Knesset over the next few weeks, and then in the Knesset’s Interior and Environment Committee.

Cohen, who is at the helm of managing this crisis, believes that Israel must stick to a hard line in the confrontation with the detainees, and not compromise or hold talks with the hunger-strikers to reach a compromise with them. Although this was not said explicitly, people who have spoken with Cohen over the past several days got the impression that he believed Israel could deal even with the death of a hunger-striking detainee and that compromising with them would put Israel in the position of being permanently under extortion by repeated hunger strikes.

The attorneys of the detainees’ leaders also say that according to messages they have received from Shin Bet and Prisons Service officials over the past few days, the government has no intention of holding talks with them, and that since abolishing administrative detention involves changes in legislation, the security authorities are not the ones to approach on the issue. The atmosphere among the detainees and their families is heavy. According to attorneys who have visited the detainees, they received no offer to stop the strike. “The impression is that the government is willing to deal with detainees dying in prison to see what the response on the Palestinian street will be,” said attorney Jawad Boulos, the legal adviser of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club.

Palestinian schoolgirls during a rally near Jenin for Palestinian prisoners in 2012.Credit: AP

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

בנימין נתניהו השקת ספר

Netanyahu’s Israel Is About to Slam the Door on the Diaspora

עדי שטרן

Head of Israel’s Top Art Academy Leads a Quiet Revolution

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

Skyscrapers in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv.

Israel May Have Caught the Worst American Disease, New Research Shows

ג'אמיל דקוור

Why the Head of ACLU’s Human Rights Program Has Regrets About Emigrating From Israel

ISRAEL-VOTE

Netanyahu’s Election Win Dealt a Grievous Blow to Judaism