By guest author Dahlia Wasfi
In the early morning hours of December 12, 2012, Israeli forces raided the offices of three Palestinian civil society organizations in Ramallah in the West Bank, including the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.
Addameer is a non-governmental institution that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian jails. Israeli soldiers confiscated four computers, a hard drive, a video camera, and an unknown amount of files and documentation. Posters of prisoners and hunger strikers were ripped down from the walls and strewn on the floor.
Addameer’s last monthly report from November 1, 2012, listed 4,520 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention centers, including 156 administrative detainees, 10 women, and shockingly, 164 children.
Addameer was likely targeted by occupation forces because of its efforts to document Israel’s violations of the rights of prisoners.
These violations include:
- Systematic torture and ill-treatment
- Unjust solitary confinement and isolation
- Collective punishment
- Medical negligence
Violations of the human rights of prisoners and detainees—many of whom are held indefinitely and without charge—have driven many of those behind bars to go on hunger strike.
Like Bobby Sands and his fellow imprisoned Irish Republicans who united in hunger strike against the UK government, Palestinian political prisoners are on hunger strike demanding respect for their human rights. Some prisoners are also striking for the broader cause of ending the illegal occupation of Palestine.
Two cases that have received international attention were the hunger strikes of Khader Adnan, who protested his detention without charge or trial, and Mahmoud Sarsak, who began his hunger strike after his detention was renewed for the sixth time, without charge or trial.
Israeli officials agreed to release Adnan on the 66th day of his strike. Sarsak—a gifted soccer player who was detained in 2009 while en route from his home in Gaza to play in the West Bank–was released after 96 days without food (See Truthout article).
Thousands more, however, continue to languish in Israeli jails. Addameer reports that Israel continues to arrest an average of 11 to 20 Palestinians every day, totaling around 7,000 new detainees each year. Arbitrary administrative detention without charge or trial is an unacceptable practice, as is the harassment of Addameer’s human rights workers.
The United States should suspend aid to the Israeli military until the time that compliance with international humanitarian law becomes Israeli policy.
Dr. Dahlia Wasfi