Demand for stable, assured and dignified existence
An example set by a Palestinian prisoner who fasted for 66 days has snowballed into a mass campaign of non-violent resistance, which has uniquely challenged Israel's 45-year-old occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as the five-year siege of the Gaza Strip.
The pioneer of this agitation is Khaden Adnan, who began his fast towards the end 2011.
Mr. Adnan's silent revolt was against the practice of “administrative detention”— a particularly undignified form of arbitrary confinement, which can keep detained inmates in prison without trial for an extendable period of six months.
In an article posted on his blog, Richard Falk, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights has recorded in graphic detail the circumstances which led Mr. Adnan to pursue the hunger strike: “Dragged from his home in the village of Arraba near Jenin by a night raid by dozens of Israeli soldiers, humiliated and roughed up in the presence of his two and four year old daughter, carried away shackled and blindfolded, roughly interrogated, and then made subject to an administrative decree for the eighth time in his young life. Adnan's inner conscience must have screamed ‘Enough!' and he embarked on an open-ended hunger strike.”
Mr. Adnan, in turn seemed to have inspired, Hana Shalabi, a young Palestinian woman from the village of Burqin, near the Palestinian town of Jenin, who was also picked up in the middle of night and faced a string of humiliations. Her arrest came in as a huge shock for she had been released from prison only a few months earlier as part of the prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit, the lone Israeli captive. Ms. Shalabi's ordeal lasted a full 43 days, before she was released.
The precedent setting actions of the two, nevertheless, have not been complete successes. Like Mr. Adnan, Ms. Shalabi has been released, but will not be united with her family in her ancestral village.
Instead, her conditional freedom means that for three years, she would stay away from home in the besieged Gaza strip. On Sunday, around 100 people holding her pictures, including officials from the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, received Ms. Shalabi in Gaza city. In a statement, she said: “To my dear family and my people and all the free people in the world, I thank you for your efforts and I appreciate everything you did for me and for the prisoners.” “I hope that you will understand my position and my decision, which was taken freely.”
However, despite the limitations imposed in the deal, around 1,500 prisoners are now on hunger strike. They are demanding an end to administrative detention, excessive solitary confinement, humane living conditions, and access to educational materials — in other words, stable and assured conditions for dignified existence.
Among the striking prisoners, conditions of — Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh — is worrisome They have not taken food since February 28, and have recently been taken to hospital, where Mr. Halahleh announced he would not consume water or agree for medication.Some analysts are of the view, that with the hunger strike gathering ever greater intensity, a “Gandhian moment,” has been achieved in the Palestinian struggle, which may , increasingly, pursue a non-violent path.