Palestinian Prisoners Turn To Hunger Strikes
Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and military rule have few means to combat a major power imbalance between the two sides.
Prisoners detained by Israel have long turned to hunger strikes, leaving the Israeli authorities largely unable to act against the prisoners or to stop the images of emaciated strikers from publicly circulating.
There are currently about 500 Palestinian prisoners being held under what is called administrative detention, without charges or trial based on secret evidence, according to Palestinian rights groups.
Israel does not divulge information on detainees and says that the administrative detentions are necessary for preventing attacks against its citizens.
Hunger strikes are either collective, with dozens or hundreds taking part, or individual to protest prison conditions or the open-ended detentions themselves. They have drawn criticism of Israel from around the world, including the U.N. Despite legislative attempts to allow striking prisoners to be force-fed, the Israeli authorities have struggled to address them.
First person: Kayed al-Fasfos, a Palestinian accountant, spent nine months in an Israeli prison without charge or trial. He was released last year after a 131-day hunger strike. “Even if I had died,” he said, “I would consider it a victory because in the end I left the prison.” (NYT)