Last Monday on prisoner's day Marwan Barghouti a palestinain leader announced an open-ended strike in an op-ed article in The New York times which the Israeli prison officials report was smuggled by his wife, Fadwa.
Marwan Barghouti who is leading the strike was convicted on charges of murder and was sentenced to five life sentences. In his article he stated that: "Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells."
More than 1000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons have joined the strike. About 186 have ended it, yet hundreds have joined since. The reasons to end the strike are personal which could include health conditions as every body is different.
The main demand is to ensure regular family visits. As Barghouti stated, Israeli prisons are mostly in the occupied areas and so it is difficult for families to even get permits that allows them to enter and travel in the occupied areas turning their lawful right to see their families in Israeli prisons into a privilege.
Other demands include improved medical service, pay phones to call relatives, access to education for Palestinian children and an end to administrative detention which is when an individual is arrested without being convicted or without knowing what he/she is being convicted of for security reasons. Under international law this could only be lawful under exceptional circumstances. However Israel has been in a state of emergency for 67 years and regularly exercises administrative detention.
Individuals could be detained for "secret evidence" that the lawyer nor the detainee can see. The integrators could prevent access to lawyers and food. They can even prolong the stay of the detainee for as long as they think is necessary.
They also pressure prisoners by isolating them in inhuman conditions that include a thin mattress and no bathroom in a solitary confinement.
At the moment there are around 6500 Palestinian prisoners including 500 administrative detainees. These include political activists, students, journalists and authors.
Israel has been punishing the hunger-striking Palestinians by forcibly moving them to different sections of Israeli jails, confiscating their clothes and personal belongings, force feeding them and placing their leaders in solitary confinement's.
As for the prisoners' bodies. They stop feeling hunger pangs after the third day. Their bodies starts to use their muscle protein to make glucose , a sugar that is important for their cell metabolism. There is an increase in nausea due to the lack of energy provided to their brain. The kidneys stop working which increases toxics in their bodies. Salt and water ? Blood pressure falls due to lack of salts in the blood which prevents blood from reaching all body parts. Also salts prevent the stomach from developing a great environment for bacteria and fungi growth.
Lastly, What can we do ?
I have ignored this for a week now but have decided that the only way we can go through this is hand in hand. I dont know how effective these methods are but here they are:
1- Theres been videos on social media circulting about the water and salt challenge. Where a person drinks a glass of water with preferably a sprinkle of salt.
2- I've seen some people changing their profile pictures to include a slogan that says dignity strike. You could do that by clicking your profile picture and adding a frame.
3- Share #dignitystrike or in arabic #اضراب_الكرامة which I think can bring awareness to why our prisoners are striking.
4- Theres the freedom and dignity run tomorrow in Ramallah that starts from AlSa'a circle at 9. I believe the larger the number the more awareness this could bring.
5- Boycotting isaeli products. Truthfully, I've always found this difficult but you could start by gradually decreasing Israeli products that you're buying.
I hope that I'll see people my age participating more in bringing awareness to the rights that are being denied to our prisoners. I've seen adults participating in the challenge but not as much from teenagers . I'm not criticizing or anything but I hope that whatever we do can help or at least support our families in the israeli prisons.