As of this writing there has been no decision made by the Israeli authorities concerning the demands of the 2,000 Palestinians currently on hunger strike. Six of the Palestinians on hunger strike have been striking for at least seven weeks. According to the Red Cross these prisoners are in “imminent danger of dying.” Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Dabit are the two prisoners who have been on hunger strike the longest and are now on their 76th day.
This whole incident has put the U.S.-Israeli controlled Palestinian group Fatah into full panic mode. President of the Palestinian Authority (the Palestinian Authority is for all intents and purposes the same as Fatah), Mahmoud Abbas, is reported to have told a delegation from JStreet that he is “very, very, very afraid” of what may happen should any of the hunger strikers die in prison. “I am afraid, God forbid, that the security system here will collapse.” Abbas has very good reason to be afraid. It is a well-known secret amongst residents of the West Bank that Fatah’s security forces are armed and trained by Israel and the United States government. As Chomsky writes, “The United States Government appointed a special envoy, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, to work with Abbas forces, and helped channel $40 million to buildup the Presidential Guard, which were the Fatah forces associated with Abbas.” The Arab uprisings have so far conspicuously failed to encourage any action in the occupied territories, but Fatah’s leaders are nervous that this may change with the deaths of one of the hunger strikers.
The hunger strikers themselves are demanding much less than an end to the occupation. Their demands are simply an end to Israel’s practice of engaging in “administrative detention”, meaning the practice of imprisoning Palestinians indefinitely without trying them for or charging them with any crime. In addition, the hunger strikers are demanding an end to the practice of solitary confinement, approval of family visits for all prisoners, and access to university education. It is unclear whether or not Israel will meet these demands before one of the hunger strikers dies.
Knowing that his death is close at hand, hunger striker Thaer Halahleh wrote a letter to his daughter that was translated and posted on the website Electronic Intifada. It reads:
My Beloved Lamar, forgive me because the occupation took me away from you, and took away from me the pleasure of witnessing my firstborn child that I have always prayed to God to see, to kiss, to be happy with. It is not your fault; this is our destiny as Palestinian people to have our lives and the lives of our children taken away from us, to be apart from each other and to have a miserable life. Nothing is complete in our lives because of this unjust occupation that is lurking on every corner of our lives turning it into eeriness, a continuous pursuit and torture.
Here is a link to the full letter.
Solidarity to the Palestinian hunger strikers!