Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi has been on hunger strike for 203 days now (as of 19th February 2013), whilst Tareq Qaadan, Jafar Azzidine and Yousef Yassin have been on hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention orders. Samer Issawi was freed from Israeli prison after last year’s exchange of a captured Israeli soldier for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. But today he is awaiting hearings in two Israeli courts, Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank and Israeli Magistrates Court in Jerusalem.
Thirty-two-year-old Samer is from the Palestinian village of Issawiyeh in Jerusalem. On 15 April 2002, Samer was captured by the Israeli army in Ramallah during the invasion of multiple West Bank cities, dubbed by Israel “Operation Defensive Shield.” Samer was sentenced to thirty years in prison on charges of possession of weapons and forming military groups in Jerusalem.
Nearly 10 years later, in October 2011 Samer was released along with 476 Palestinian prisoners as a result of an Egypt-brokered deal between Hamas and the Israeli government. However, on 7 July 2012, he was re-arrested near the Palestinian village of Hizma, an area within the boundaries of the municipality of Jerusalem. Israel wrongly and falsely claimed that Samer broke the terms of his release by leaving Jerusalem.
Samer’s life now hangs by a thread. On December 24th, Samer forwarded a short message via his lawyer, “My detention is unjust and illegal, just like the occupation is. My demands are legitimate and just. Thus I will not withdraw from the battle for freedom, waiting for either victory and freedom - or martyrdom.”
Administrative detention is a procedure that allows the Israeli military to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. There are currently 178 administrative detainees, a significant increase since the attacks on Gaza in November 2012.
Friends of Al-Aqsa condemns the continued practice of administrative detention against Palestinians. Friends of Al-Aqsa calls on the international community to pressure their governments and Israel to end this arbitrary practice and to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law.
Poster by Massoud Nayeri