Urgent Appeal to Support Palestinian/Jordanian Political Prisoners in Israeli Jails.

Steven Katsineris with a piece calling for support for political prisoners being held in Israeli jails which initiallty featured on the DFLP website on 19 October 2013.  Steven Katsineris is an Australian free-lance writer of articles on Palestine, Cyprus and the rest of the Middle East region, political prisoners and human rights, environmental and social issues. He has been actively involved in the Palestine solidarity movement for over forty years. Steven lives with his family in Melbourne, Australia.

After 100 days on hunger strike 4 of the 5 Palestinian hunger strikers with Jordanian citizenship suspended their strike after the Israeli Prison Service agreed to allow family visits for the first time. Some of them have not been allowed to see their families for 13 years

Two months later however, Israel have reneged on the deal with not a single prisoner being allowed to see their family. The father of Jordanian prisoner Abdullah Al-Barghouti is in critical condition in hospital with only one wish - to see his son before he dies. The Jordanian government for its part have been complicit with Israel in not pursuing the rights of its citizens. So the families have been left in limbo, their hope now rests with the sole remaining Palestinian/Jordanian hunger striker Alaa Hammad.

With Israel restricting information on Alaa Hammad most of what we know is two months old. At the time Alaa Hammad had already lost around 30kg in weight whilst others had lost their ability to walk and were confined to wheelchairs. It was a torturous 100 days with the Israeli Prison Service putting immense pressure on the men to stop their strikes.

Also Mohammad Al-Rimawi, who suffers from a heart disorder and sometimes his heart beat is 125 and sometimes it drops to 50 beats per minute, was denied his medicine by the Israeli Prison Service until he agreed to stop his hunger strike. The day before he stopped - on his 99th day without food - on the eve of Eid, 5 soldiers shackled his hands and legs and threw him from his hospital bed to the ground and began savagely beating him with not a single Israeli doctor or nurse coming to his defence. The officers told Mohammad Al-Rimawi that they can treat him with violence and force with impunity because of lack of international attention on him and in particular Jordan who will not lift a finger to help him.

Two weeks before on 26th June 2013, the Israeli guards had brutally attacked Abdullah Al-Barghouti, again whilst he was in hospital - they dragged him from his hospital bed to the concrete floor and kicked him in the face leaving him bleeding. When a lawyer visited him on 7th August his condition remained critical, with problems with his liver, low blood pressure and constant migraines. Unable to walk, he is left shackled to his bed with threats of force feeding should he fall into a coma.

Under these conditions it was a miracle that the other prisoners managed 100 days of hunger strike. That in itself was their victory. The defeat was ours - the prisoners gave activists around the world 100 days to mobilize and pressure the Jordanian government in to action, but we failed them. The hunger strikers confirmed this saying that lack of international attention was the primary reason why the hunger strikes ended.

Now the only Palestinian/Jordanian prisoner still on hunger strike is Alaa Hammad and his condition is very precarious. On 5 August Hammad fainted and remained unconscious for five hours, ignored by the Israeli doctors. After finally receiving treatment Hammad regained consciousness.

Currently there are 26 Jordanian citizens that Israel has confirmed are in its prisons and another 21 missing which Israel has not accounted for. There are also unmarked ‘numbered graves’ of Jordanians who have died in Israeli prisons.

One of the 26 is the child prisoner Mohammad Mahdi Saleh Suleiman. Now 17 years old he was been caged for over 6 months all ready, he is the youngest Jordanian in an Israeli prison. He has been severely tortured at Al Jalame Prison - the notorious Israeli children's dungeon. One of the missing 21 Jordanians is Laith Al-Kinani; he has been missing for 6 years. Mohammed Mahdi's father and Laith's parents have protested everyday for the last three months in front of the Jordanian Parliament and Royal Palace with no response from the government.

There have been over 90 demonstrations in Jordan by the families of the prisoners - elderly mothers standing in the burning sun, at several protests each day! As well even a 22km solidarity march from one city to another. All of this falling on deaf ears with the Jordanian government shamefully abandoning the prisoners and according to some accounts even pressuring the prisoners to give up their hunger strike.

Terrified by the iron will of the families and friends of the hunger strikers to relentlessly carry on protesting everyday and the support and respect they garner in wider society and the resulting momentum building up to end the state’s total submission to every whim of the Zionist enemy, the Jordanian security services have come down very hard on the protesting families. Family members have been threatened with arrest if they persist to champion their loved ones in Israeli dungeons. They dragged away a 16 year old boy, a nephew of one of the hunger strikes, to prison and locked him up for 3 days - his crime was to hand out a leaflet about his uncles' imprisonment in an Israeli prison. On another occasion, wearing military camouflage uniforms that have never seen service on the enemy front line, the security forces with batons drawn, attacked a peaceful protest with plain clothed security service personnel cowardly targeting hunger striker Muneer Meree's brother, assaulting him before disappearing back behind the uniform lines.

It’s with this backdrop of intimidation that the families and campaigners in Jordan courageously, at great personal risk to themselves, have asked for help to internationalise the campaign by protesting in solidarity with them.  

Please spread this information and support the protests in solidarity with the Palestinian/Jordanian prisoners, to assist Alaa Hammad's continued hunger strike and for the child prisoner Mohammad Mehdi Saleh Suleiman and for the missing son Laith Al-Kinani and for the release of all the other Palestinian political prisoners. Please do what you can to publicise this struggle and help the prisoners. Let’s not fail them, please join in exposing Israeli human rights abuses and supporting the just struggle of the Palestinian political prisoners.

  • Source of information - Samidoun. 
  • For more information contact- Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.

1 comment:

  1. All too often it is easy to forget what is happening to these prisoners. Good for you Steven working to keep it in the public eye