Sixty hunger striking Palestinians in Israel's Eshel prison are being held in solitary confinement, a prisoner rights group said June 3. The Palestinian Prisoners' Society said in a statement that the number of prisoners hunger striking in the Beersheba prison of Eshel had reached 60 and that each of the strikers was being held in solitary confinement. A spokesman for the Israeli Prison Service did not immediately return calls seeking comment. The prisoners are among hundreds refusing meals in solidarity with administrative detainees who have been on hunger strike for 41 days.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement that the strikers "represent the most selfless struggle for justice and freedom in Palestine." The ongoing hunger strike exposes "the cruelty and illegality of the ongoing illegal occupation, particularly in relation to the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails," Ashrawi said.
Ashrawi called on the international community to pressure Israel to meet the hunger strikers' demands. "The deafening silence from the international media and some official circles regarding the hundreds of Palestinian prisoner hunger strikers is inexcusable," she said. "We call on all states, members of the press, and people of conscience to pressure Israel to drop its cruel and illegal use of the colonial practice of administrative detention and other administrative punitive measures and form an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate the severe and illegal violations committed by the IPS."
Approximately 100 striking prisoners launched their campaign on April 24 in protest against Israel's continued use of detention without trial against Palestinians despite a 2012 promise to limit the use of administrative detention to exceptional cases. That promise came as a result of a hunger strike involving more than 2,000 Palestinians that brought many to the brink of death. Since the beginning of this year's strike, hundreds of other prisoners have joined the original 100, while thousands have held one-day solidarity strikes.
Palestinians held in administrative detention are often held without charge or trial for months and without access to the evidence leading to their detention, even though international law stipulates this tactic only be used in exceptional circumstances. Palestinian human rights organization Addameer estimates that around 183 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention. Over 800,000 Palestinians have been detained since 1967, with 5,224 currently being held in Israeli prisons, according to the PLO.
From Ma'an News Agency, June 3.