Palestinian women prisoners in the Damon prison in the occupied Palestinian territories announced that they would embark on an open hunger strike against the living conditions in Israeli prisons, the Middle East Monitor reported on June 15. The Palestinian Prisoners and Freed Prisoners’ Committee (PPFPC) said that women prisoners held in other Israeli prisons are also likely to join the open hunger strike.
A statement by the committee said, “The female prisoners call for removing cameras from the yards of the prisons, increasing time of breaks, repairing ailing facilities and creating a library.” The prisoners have decided to begin their hunger strike on July 1 and have named it “The strike of free women.”
Former prisoner Mona Qa’adan said in a statement that 13 prisoners would launch the strike. They will be led by the prisoners’ representative of the Damon prison, Yasmin Shaaban. Several other women, including some serving long-term sentences, have also announced their participation. These include Shorouq Dwayyat, Amal Taqatqa, Nurhan Awad and Malak Salman. Other prisoners are also likely to join the hunger strike at a later stage.
Other demands of the women prisoners include the extension of exercise time to eight hours between 4 am and 4 pm, restoration of the exercise yard to prevent accidents and hazards, a private room near the canteen (prison store) for the preparation of food, improving the conditions for visiting family members who have to wait for long hours to meet them, and returning confiscated books and family photos. The PPFPC said, “The department of female prisoners in Al-Damoun Prison is in need of urgent maintenance, including cupboards, water pipes, kitchen appliances, tilling and many other things.”
On June 6, 46 male inmates at the Ashkelon prison went on a hunger strike against the cruel and inhumane practices of the prison authorities and for an improvement in the prison’s living conditions. Their strike lasted less than a day, with the Israeli prison service agreeing to most of their demands by the evening.
The Palestinian prisoners’ club said that the male prisoners’ demands included an end to night searches, setting up a kitchen in the ward, access to medical services, lifting of the economic sanctions on some prisoners, hot showers, air conditioning, longer breaks in the prison yard, and permission to buy fruits and vegetables. It is not clear which of these demands have been met.
The Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association published a report recently, stating that 48 women prisoners are currently held in Israeli prisons and detention centers. These include 24 mothers, 7 injured prisoners, 26 sick prisoners and one administrative detainee held without any charge or trial. The detained women have been slapped with sentences as long as 16 years. Since 1967, more than 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and detained by Israeli occupation forces.