Since April 17—Palestinian Prisoners’ Day—over 2000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli Prisons are on hunger strike in protest of the practice of administrative detention, which means that prisoners are detained indefinitely without trial.
Some of the prisoners have been hunger striking for much longer. Yesterday Amnesty International issued an urgent action alert for two prisoners, Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, who’ve been hunger striking for 68 days. Both of them are in grave danger of dying, and doctors from Physicians for Human Rights – Israel have been denied access to see them.
I can’t stop thinking about Shareen Halahleh, Thaer Halahleh’s wife, and their daughter Lamar. Lamar’s father has been in prison since before she was born. This isn’t an unusual situation in the 67 territories—incarceration is part of every family’s story. I really recommend reading Bekah Wolf’s account of her husband’s administrative detention to get a glimpse of what it means to have loved ones in Israeli prisons.
Incidentally yesterday was the anniversary of Bobby Sands’ death. He died of starvation in a British prison after a 66-day hunger strike. Sands famously said that ‘our revenge will be the laughter of our children’. I hope Thaer Halahleh gets to go home and hear his daughter’s laughter soon. Especially because right now the only alternative is death.
Since I can’t possibly say it too many times, I’m going to say (again) that ending administrative detention isn’t enough. Administrative detention is an integral part of the occupation. The most basic prerequisite for peace is an end to the occupation, the return of the 1948 refugees and a system of government that doesn’t privilege Jews over Palestinians.