Beginning of August 2022, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement announced the intended initiation of a mass collective open hunger strike, set to begin on 1 September 2022, in protest of Israeli Prison Services’ (IPS) reinstitution of a series of collective, punitive, and retaliatory measures against Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli occupation prisons.
The planned hunger strike follows a series of escalatory steps of civil disobedience taken by Palestinian prisoners across Israeli prisons over the past two weeks, including sit-ins, collective returning of meals, and the refusal to abide by daily prison counts and “security checks.” Palestinian prisoners’ refusal to abide to the latter has led IPS’ to forcibly drag and handcuff each prisoner from their cell for each prisoner count.
The series of escalatory steps aim to specifically challenge IPS reinstitution of a number of collective penalties that were first adopted as large-scale measures following the September 2021 Gilboa Prison escape. Along with the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club and the Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, Addameer documented these measures in an urgent appeal submitted to UN experts, noting their severity and illegality as gross enactments of collective punishment targetting Palestinian prisoners. Among these measures are the continual and mass transfer of Palestinian prisoners across various Israeli prisons, which especially target Palestinian prisoners’ sentenced to life sentences. Although IPS’ ceased certain measures following protests and negotiations with the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement in March 2022, IPS recently reinstituted these measures alongside increased restrictions and abusive practices against Palestinian prisoners.
In addition to the aforementioned steps, the Palestinian prisoners’ movement suspended the previous regulatory bloc system that categorized dealings with the Israeli prison administration so as to establish a “Supreme Emergency Committee” that seeks to represent all Palestinian prisoners and coordinate collective action. In this vein, the prisoners’ movement announced their plans to begin their mass open hunger strike in September 2022, alongside ongoing acts of protest.
It is worthy to note that the Palestinian detainee Khalil Awawdeh ended his open hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention without charge by the Israeli occupation regime. Despite his critical condition and imminent threat to life, the Israeli ‘High’ court and military court continued to reject Awawdeh’s appeal against his administrative detention. On 31 August 2022, the Israeli occupation authorities agreed to release Khalil on 2 October 2022, leading him to suspend his hunger strike after 172 days.