Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Terms of agreement show that Palestinian hungerstrikers scored a modest victory

 Prison in Ramleh.

On Tuesday, almost 24 hours after the Palestinian hungerstrikers, whose number was estimated at about 2.000, ended their action, more details emerged about the deal that was reached with the Israeli prison service (IPS) and the security service Shin Bet. According to what Addameer, the human rights organisation that looks after the prisoners,  published and and based on what I heard from sources within Addameer, I can now conclude that the prisoners scored a modest success. The following was agreed upon: 
- Not only Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Dhiab, the ones who were holding the longest strikes, will be freed at the end of their term of administrative detention, but this goes for ALL 308 Palestinians currently in administrative detention. At the end of their terms there will be no renewal of the detention and if lateron rearrests occur these have to be based on new evidence and not on what is presently in their files. Moreover, a civil court has to handle the cases of administrative detention and not, as is the case till now, a military court.  

-there will be an end to the use of long-term isolation of prisoners for “security” reasons. The 19 prisoners currently in isolation, among them Ahmed Sa'adat, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who has been in solitary confinement for three years, will be moved out of isolation within 72 hours.
 - family visits for first degree relatives to prisoners from the Gaza Strip, who have not seen any relatives since 2007, after the Israeli corporal Gilat Shalit was kidnapped, and for families from the West Bank who have been denied visits based on vague “security reasons” will be reinstated within one month. Also the right to study at institutes of higher learning, that was taken away from the prisoners in 2011, was reinstated.
-  there will be a committee formed, consisting of prisoners, members of the security service Shin Bet and people fro the IPS, to discuss the conditions in the prisons and handle complaints. 
The written agreement in turn demands from the prisoners that all of the halt their hungerstrike and that they refrain from 'terrorist activities' in prison. 
Addameer was happy with the agreement, that most probably could only be reached because Israel wanted to avoid extra tensions on 15 May, 'Nakba day', a day that is always good for demonstrations and unrest anyway. Addameer warns, however, that the fulfillment of the agreement has to be closely monitored. Israel has reneged on its commitments more than once in the past. 
 As for the condition of Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Dhiab, whose health is extremely bad after 77 days  without food, and three others who have also been striking much longer than the rest, Hassan Safadi (71 days), Omar Abu Shalal (69 days) and Jaafar Azzedine (54 days), they will be taken care of. It is not clear whether there will be no permanent damage to their health. It is considered a miracle that they are even still alive.

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