Long-term hunger striker Samer Issawi on April 17 called for “rage and solidarity” to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day. “Greetings to all without exception. I urge all the noble people of our Arab and Muslim nation as well as the free people of the world to turn April 17 into a day of rage and solidarity with Palestinian prisoners,” Issawi wrote in a letter sent through his lawyer from his hospital bed. “The voice of those heroes who have sacrificed and are still making sacrifices for the sake of the freedom of their people and land, and in defense for Muslim and Christian holy places in the holiest spot on the globe, should be heard.”
Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for over eight months, said Israeli forces continued to breach international conventions and to exert pressure on detainees to frustrate them. Israeli authorities want prisoners to feel they are fighting their battle alone and that their own people have forgotten them, he added. “Solidarity activities shouldn’t be restricted to April 17, but rather there must be activities and pressures on the occupation everyday in order to release all Palestinian prisoners.
The hunger striker said no negotiations should be held with Israel until all Palestinians political prisoners were released. “All prisoners must be released before conducting any negotiations with the occupation regardless of how fruitful these negotiations could be.”
Addressing his fellow prisoners, Issawi called for unity. All detainees share the same suffering in custody and so must end all disputes and stop dividing detainees in cells according to their political affiliations, he said.
Issawi has been on hunger strike since Aug. 1, demanding his release to his hometown Isawiya in East Jerusalem. He was granted amnesty in the Oct. 2011 prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas. but was rearrested on July 7 and accused of violating his release terms by leaving East Jerusalem and entering the West Bank.
In a letter to EU chief Catherine Ashton, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said the accusation showed “the absurdity and injustice of Israel’s obsession with controlling Palestinian lives.”
“Since Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is illegal and not recognized by the international community, including the European Union, the term in question effectively denied him the right to move a few kilometers from one part of his country to another part of it,” Erekat noted.
Palestinian Authority prisoners minister, Issa Qaraqe, said Wednesday that officers of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency were in intense negotiations with Issawi at the Kaplan Medical Center. Issawi has stressed that he will only agree to a deal that allows him to return to his hometown of Isawiya in Jerusalem, Qaraqe said.
Israeli authorities had raised several proposals to try and end Issawi’s hunger strike, including deporting him to Gaza for 10 years, sentencing him to five years in Israeli prison and deporting him to Europe, said the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, Qadura Fares.
From Ma’an News Agency, April 17
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3,000 detainees refuse food to mark Prisoners’ Day
Some 3,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails on April 17 refused food in a one-day hunger strike to mark Prisoners’ Day. Palestinians also held marches and rallies as a show of solidarity with prisoners in Israeli jails, whose numbers reach almost 5,000. On the West Bank, some 600 relatives of prisoners gathered for a sit-in in the rain at Arafat Square in central Ramallah, and later marched towards the military prison at Ofer. Another rally was held in the northern city of Nablus. In Gaza, hundreds marched from central Gaza City to the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross. (AFP, April 17)