After 41 days, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs and Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) put out a joint statement that ‘Freedom and Dignity’ hunger strike has been suspended after more than 20 hours of negotiations. Palestinians have taken to the streets celebrating and singing in disbelief. It is still un-clear what the hunger strikers and the Israeli state have agreed upon.
Yesterday Friday 26th May as the political prisoners entered into their 40th day of their freedom and dignity hunger strike demonstrations took place across the West Bank and Gaza. Again, like previous solidarity demonstrations, Israeli forces aggressively suppressed the crowds in the districts of Bethlehem, Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus and Qalqiliya.
Israeli forces sprayed skunk water on the homes of Palestinians, shot tear gas, sound grenades, rubber coated bullets and live ammunition into the crowd of the unarmed demonstrators injuring numerous Palestinians. Red Crescent reported that three were seriously injured with live ammunition and another three with rubber-coated bullets and numerous people with tear gas inhalation. The UN have documented that 3,393 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces in 2016, while 781 injuries in 2017 have been reported so far.
Although a victory for the political prisoners, we must not forget what we have witnessed the past 40 days. Israeli apartheid subjected the prisoners to both physical and mental violence because of their hunger strike. Palestinians who are held in Israeli prisons have faced trials that lack due process, many are held without knowing the accusations against them under a regime of ‘administrative detention’ and Israeli prisons include at least 300 children.
These hunger strikers were left with no option than using their bodies as a barricade to get a breath of freedom. The actions and resilience of the hunger strikers are reminder of the inhumane Israeli occupation. They took on a huge sacrifice that could have taken so many lives, a sacrifice that many who have fought for liberation will know much about and to that we commend their courage.
The fight still continues. It is vital that in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle we strengthen their BDS campaigns against Israel's regime of occupation, apartheid and colonisation and those directly involved in Israel's brutal system of incarceration and abuse of Palestinian prisoners. It’s still urgent to rise and resist and to support Palestinians as they call for their humanity to be recognised, and their struggle for freedom, dignity and justice to be met with solidarity. It is not over yet.