30 Palestinian Detainees Initiate a Collective Open Hunger Strike against their Arbitrary Detention without Charge or Trial

| Addameer |

Today, 30 Palestinian administrative detainees, held arbitrarily in Israeli occupation prisons, initiate a collective open hunger strike against their unlawful detention. The collective hunger strike comes in response to the Israeli occupation authorities’ broad escalation of administrative detention targeting Palestinian human rights defenders, students, politicians, and former prisoners. It highlights the Israeli occupation authorities’ increased reliance on administrative detention, a procedure in which detainees are held without charge or trial based on ’secret information’ for an indefinite time. Palestinian hunger-striking detainees demand an end to the policy of administrative detention as an arbitrary, coercive, and punitive measure of torture against hundreds of Palestinians, including women, children, the elderly, and civil society activists.

Thus far in 2022, the Israeli occupation forces have expanded their systematic and arbitrary administrative detention practices. According to documentation by the Palestinian Prisoners Organizations, there are presently around 780 Palestinian administrative detainees languishing indefinitely in occupation prisons without charge or trial, including six children, two women, and three Palestinian Legislative Council members. In fact, the number of administrative detention orders issued in 2021 outpaced the prior year by 40%. This surge illustrates the Israeli occupation authorities expanded use of arbitrary arrests and administrative detention orders against Palestinians engaged in solidary protests across the occupied Palestinian territory during the2021 Unity Uprising. In August 2022, the Israeli military commander issued 272 administrative detention orders, including 143 new orders and 129 renewals.

More than 80% of the Palestinian detainees joining this collective open hunger strike in protest of their detention are themselves former prisoners, a phenomenon further highlighting the Israeli occupation’s targeting of former Palestinian prisoners who are routinely released, arbitrarily re-arrested, and placed in administrative detention for months on end. Notably, the current Palestinian administrative detainee joining the collective hunger strike is former prisoner Asem Al-Ka’bi, recently released in April 2021 after finishing an 18-year prison sentence in Naqab prison and re-arrested under administrative detention for six months on 24 August 2022.

The Israeli occupation authorities’ expansion of administrative detention comes amid and in parallel with the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime’s systematic harassment campaign against Palestinian civil society, most recently with the criminalization of six leading Palestinian civil society organizations (CSOs) in October 2021. Addameer lawyer and human rights defender Salah Hammouri was arrested on 7 March 2022 and received a three-month administrative detention order, which was renewed twice on 5 June and 5 September. Salah was first arrested at the age of 16 and has since then been facing continuous judicial and administrative harassment by the Israeli occupation authorities, including six periods of imprisonment and arbitrary arrests, several travel bans, separation from his family, surveillance and spyware attack, and most recently, the illegal revocation of his permanent Jerusalem residency and forced deportation from Jerusalem.

Historically and presently, Palestinian political prisoners have taken on individual and collective hunger strikes in protest of the systematic and arbitrary policy of administrative detention by Israeli occupation authorities ; in 2021, about 60 Palestinian detainees undertook such hunger strikes individually. The increased number of Palestinian detainees undertaking individual hunger strikes in 2022 continued. Throughout, several outstanding cases emerged in which Palestinian hunger-striking detainees reached critical health conditions, including an imminent threat to life, including Ghadanfar Abu Atwan (65 days), Kayed Fasfous (131 days), Miqdad Al-Qawasmeh (113 days), and Hisham Abu Hawash (141 days).

Beyond overlooking practices of retaliatory punishment and ill-treatment, Israeli military courts routinely reject appeals submitted against hunger-striking prisoners’ administrative detention orders, despite obvious physical conditions, citing a present “danger” according to “secret information. Rather, Israeli military courts doubly act to confirm renewed administrative detention orders against Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, despite their explicitly grave health conditions, as evidenced by the case of Khalil Awawdeh.

Administrative detention remains the most extreme measure that International Humanitarian Law (IHL), consisting of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional protocols, allows an Occupying Power to employ against the occupied population. United Nations experts and Special Rapporteurs have issued several statements, most recently on 21 October 2021, strongly condemning Israeli practices of administrative detention in violation of international law, which continue to hold Palestinians “without charges, without trials, without convictions,’ indefinitely, based on ’secret’ evidence inaccessible to detainees or their lawyers. Noting the significant hunger strikes undertaken by several administrative detainees at the time, UN experts expressed ’grave fear’ for their lives, calling on Israeli occupation authorities to ’release or charge’ them and end its ’unlawful practice of administrative detention,’ emphasizing their arbitrary nature ’which is strictly prohibited under international law, including international humanitarian law.’

Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association affirms its commitment to stand by Palestinian prisoners and detainees and echoes hunger-striking detainees’ demands to end the systematic and arbitrary use of administrative detention. We urge the international community to put pressure on the Israeli occupation authorities to release all Palestinian prisoners and detainees held in administrative detention, afford them their rights to life, the highest attainable standard of health and mental health, and all basic legal safeguards, and end all forms of reprisals against the striking prisoners.

1Nidal Abu Aker (54 y/o)01/08/2022Dheisheh Refugee Camp
2 Asem Al-Ka’bi (44 y/o) 24/08/2022 Balata Refugee Camp
3 Ehab Mas’oud (50 y/o) 17/10/2021 Ramallah
4 Ahmad Hajaj (44 y/o) 24/08/2022 Ramallah
5 Thaer Taha (43 y/o) 01/05/2022 Ramallah
6 Rami Fadayel (43 y/o) 05/09/2022 Ramallah
7 Lutfe Salah (43 y/o)   Bethlehem 
8 Salah Hammouri (37 y/o) 07/03/2022 Jerusalem
9 Ghassan Zawahreh (40 y/o) 19/08/2022 Dheisheh Refugee Camp
10 Can’an Can’an (30 y/o) 03/08/2022 Hizma
11 Ashraf Abu Iram (36 y/o) 07/06/2021 Ramallah
12 Ghassan Karajeh (32 y/o) 11/08/2022 Ramallah
13 Saleh Abu Alia (32 y/o) 04/03/2022 Ramallah
14 Awad Can’an (32 y/o) 02/02/2022 Hizma
15 Laith Kasabreh (31 y/o) 01/02/2022 Beit Anan
16 Saleh J’aidi (30 y/o) 04/08/2022 Dheisheh Refugee Camp
17 Basel Mizher (29 y/o) 12/11/2021 Dheisheh Refugee Camp
18 Majd Al-Khawaja (28 y/o) 14/06/2022 Ramallah
19 Jihad Shraiteh (28 y/o) 08/05/2022 Ramallah
20 Haitham Sayaj  03/11/2021 Ramallah
21 Mustafa Hasanat (29 y/o) 03/02/2022 Bethlehem
22 Azmi Al-Barghouthi (23 y/o) 08/05/2022 Ramallah
23 Mohammad Fuqaha (22 y/o) 15/03/2022 Ramallah
24 Mohammad Abu Gazi (22 y/o) 13/03/2022 Arroub Refugee Camp
25 Ahmad Kharouf (22 y/o) 13/06/2022 Ramallah
26 Nasrallah Al-Barghouthi (22 y/o)   Ramallah
27 Tamer Hajouj (22 y/o) 15/03/2022 Ramallah
28 Raghd Shamrouk 12/09/2022 Dheisheh Refugee Camp
29 Zaid Qaddoumi 16/09/2022 Beit Jala
30 Sinar Hamad (20 y/o) 18/04/2022 Ramallah