Hamas prisoners announce hunger strike to protest administrative detention

Terror group says dozens of detainees in Israelis jails will skip meals in solidarity with members being held without charges

Illustrative: Palestinian security prisoners in Ofer Prison, north of Jerusalem, August 20, 2008. (Moshe Shai/Flash90/File)
Illustrative: Palestinian security prisoners in Ofer Prison, north of Jerusalem, August 20, 2008. (Moshe Shai/Flash90/File)

Hamas announced Sunday that dozens of its members who are prisoners in Israeli jails will go on a hunger strike to protest the ongoing policy of administrative detention against Palestinian suspects.

“Dozens of prisoners are preparing for an open-ended hunger strike in support of the six prisoners who are on currently on a hunger strike in rejection of administrative detentions,” Hamas said in a statement, reported by official Hamas TV.

The prisoners currently hunger-striking, some of whom have been without food for nearly three months, are being held in administrative detention, a controversial legal procedure that allows Israeli authorities to hold prisoners without charges.

“We cannot remain silent,” the Hamas statement said.

The announcement comes two days after the leadership of a prisoners group affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group announced the end of a hunger strike that was launched in protest of new Israeli policies toward detainees.

The unofficial body claimed on Friday that it had come to an agreement with the Israel Prisons Service that met several of its demands.

Cells are seen at Ketziot Prison following rioting by Palestinian security prisoners, on September 8, 2021. (Courtesy)

A security official familiar with the situation, however, told The Times of Israel on Friday that the group’s claims were false, and that there had been no negotiations between prisoners and wardens.

“There was no official hunger strike in the numbers they claimed, and there were no negotiations,” the official claimed. Despite reports of 250 prisoners taking part in a nine-day hunger strike, the official said that at its peak 40 prisoners had taken part, but not for the entire time period.

“The same way they started it in an unorganized manner, they also ended it in an unorganized matter,” said the official, claiming that no immediate changes would be occurring in the prison following the hunger strike. “If something will change in the future it has nothing to do with this.”

Since six Palestinian security prisoners escaped from Gilboa Prison in northern Israel in early September, the Israel Prisons Service has taken a number of measures in an attempt to reduce the chances of another breakout, sparking the protest hunger strikes by Islamic Jihad inmates.

A protester flies a Palestinian flag and chant slogans next to burning tires during clashes with Israeli troops following a demonstration supporting Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, at the entrance of the West Bank city of Nablus, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

The policies included breaking apart clusters of Islamic Jihad prisoners, moving some to other jails, and solitary confinement for certain inmates. Family visits have also been postponed. The fugitives — since recaptured — were also dispersed to five prisons across the country.

The Prisoners Club is a Palestinian organization that advocates on behalf of Palestinians in Israeli jails. While the organization used to be financially supported by the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah has reportedly ceased funding the body for at least three years.

Islamic Jihad chief Ziad al-Nakhaleh said earlier in October that the terror group would be willing to go to war on behalf of its prisoners.

“Palestinian Islamic Jihad will not leave its members in Zionist prisons to be victims at the hands of the enemy. Accordingly, we will stand with them and support them with everything we have, even if this means we must go to war for their sake,” said al-Nakhaleh. “No agreements or any other considerations will prevent us from that,” he said.

Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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