March 16, 2012 marks one month of Hana al-Shalabi’s hunger strike. Hana al-Shalabi has been held under administrative detention without charge or trial since her re-arrest on February 16, 2012 and has maintained a continuous hunger strike since that date, inspiring international solidarity and action.

March 14, 2012 also marks the sixth anniversary of the Israeli military raid on the Palestinian Authority’s Jericho prison, in which Ahmad Sa’adat, General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and renowned national leader, was abducted after a lengthy siege along with five of his comrades who had been held under PA, US and British guard at the prison. Click here to send a letter demanding freedom for Hana al-Shalabi and Ahmad Sa’adat.

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Sa’adat has now been in isolation and solitary confinement for three years, isolated in March 2009 following his public comments saluting Palestinian struggle and resistance in the face of Operation Cast Lead’s murderous assault on Gaza. Hana Shalabi has joined him in solitary confinement, alongside 30 other of the nearly 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners confined to isolation cells.

Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur, has saluted Hana Shalabi’s courage and denounced the silence of official international institutions, including the United Nations. “To engage in an open ended hunger strike…requires a deep and abiding dedication to right a perceived wrong of the greatest gravity,” said Falk.

Sa’adat’s own resilience and steadfastness has been legendary; a veteran of prisoner organizing and hunger strikes within occupation prisons, Sa’adat both inspired and led the September-October 2011 prisoner hunger strikes demanding an end to isolation and abuse, which galvanized support for Palestinian prisoners throughout occupied Palestine and internationally, a support movement that has been strengthened by the courage of first Khader Adnan and now Hana Shalabi to challenge administrative detention with their bodies and their hunger.

Ahmad Sa’adat and Hana Shalabi stand together as symbols of Palestinian resistance, steadfastness, unity and strength – in the face of the occupier, continuing to resist despite all obstacles and means of oppression.

Four additional administrative detainees have declared hunger strikes, as reported by Addameer, and many others have refused to attend court.  These struggles only expand as threats to Hana Shalabi’s health and life grow. As Physicians for Human Rights reported after their medical examination, “The second doctor’s second examination on 12 March indicated an additional deterioration in Ms. Shalabi’s condition, shown mainly in advanced muscle atrophy and wasting, additional weight loss, a significant reduction in blood sugar, severe dizziness and severe muscle pain, especially in her chest and back.”

This rejection of the courts builds on Sa’adat’s long-term rejection of participation in the occupation legal system, recognizing it as a constituent part of the occupation. “As for your judicial apparatus…: it is one of the instruments of the occupation whose function is to give the cover of legal legitimacy to the crimes of the occupation, in addition to consecrating its systems and allowing the imposition of these systems on our people through force. This judicial apparatus also supports the administration of this occupation – which is the worst form of state-organized terrorism -as if you were in a permanent state of self-defense. The legitimate resistance of our people is seen as if it were terrorism that must be combated and liquidated and judgment is placed upon those that practice or support it. And in the face of this contradiction between two logics, there would have to be a conviction,” said Sa’adat.

When Jericho prison was attacked by the Israeli military on March 14, 2012 in order to seize Sa’adat and his comrades, occupation forces killed two Palestinians, wounded twenty-three, and kidnapped Sa’adat and his comrades from their internationally-condemned four-year imprisonment in Palestinian Authority jails under US and British guard. The Israeli military attacked the prison because they would not allow the then-newly-elected Palestinian Authority legislature to meet its promises, obey Palestinian law, international law, and calls from Amnesty International and other concerned human rights organizations by freeing these prisoners of conscience.

Hana Shalabi was abducted only four months after her release from three prior years of administrative detention without charge or trial, a release secured in a prisoner exchange negotiated by the Palestinian resistance.

The Israeli attacks on Sa’adat and Shalabi indicate the Israeli occupation’s ongoing attempts to silence and imprison the entire Palestinian movement, attempting to stifle any and all moves toward Palestinian freedom. Similarly, their confinement to isolation illustrates the recognition of the danger they pose – the ‘threat’ of prisoner steadfastness, leadership and courage inspiring their fellow prisoners to action.

But both Sa’adat and Shalabi also reveal Palestinian prisoners’ resilience and refusal to accept isolation or confinement. Sa’adat’s words are read by countless Palestinians and supporters of Palestine when they escape the walls of occupation. From isolation, denied contact with his fellow prisoners, Sa’adat has inspired and led multiple prison strikes and protests, echoing in the Palestinian and international movement. Similarly, Shalabi’s isolation has not weakened her resolve and has inspired international solidarity. The call of her parents for action on March 17: “Pressure on the Palestinian street is imperative in achieving Hana’s immediate release, as well as support for her open hunger strike…We as Hana’s family continue to support her hunger strike, and we want to let our daughter know that we are with her in every step of her hunger strike until she achieves her immediate release from the Israeli occupation jails,” has inspired both Palestinian and international action, from Palestine solidarity groups to Amnesty International.

On the anniversary of the raid on Jericho prison, join us to TAKE ACTION for Ahmad Sa’adat and his comrades, Hana Shalabi, and the nearly 5,000 prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons:

  1. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges the Palestine solidarity movement in North America and around the world to publicize the case of Ahmad Sa’adat, Hana al-Shalabi and all Palestinian political prisoners. Join in the call for an April 17 day of action for Palestinian prisoners’ day!
  2. Contact Israeli occupation officials and demand Hana al-Shalabi’s and Ahmad Sa’adat’s release. Sign your letter here. 
  3. Join in the March 17 actions. Organize a picket or protest outside the Israeli embassy or consulate in your location and demand the immediate freedom of Ahmad Sa’adat, Hana Shalabi, and all Palestinian political prisoners. Make it clear that the eyes of the world are on the situation of Ahmad Sa’adat and Hana Shalabi and demand an end to the use of isolation, torture solitary confinement, and administrative detention against Palestinian political prisoners. Send us reports of your protests at Israeli embassies and consulates and other actions at samidoun@samidoun.ca.
  4. Demand an end to international complicity in Israel’s prison machine.In Canada:
    Call the Israeli Embassy in Ottawa at (613) 567-6450 OR your local Embassy (for a list, click here).Call the Office of the Foreign Minister, John Baird (Tel: 613-990-7720; Email: bairdj@parl.gc.ca)Just last month, Baird stated that “There is not a government on the planet today more supportive of Israel than Harper’s Canada.” Call Baird’s office and let him know that this shameful declaration implicates Canada in Israel’s crimes and human rights violations.In the US:Call the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC (1.202.364.5500) OR your local Embassy (for a list, click here).Call the office of Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs (1.202.647.7209)

    Demand that Jeffrey Feltman bring this issue urgently to his counterparts in Israel and raise the question of Khader Adnan’s administrative detention.

  5. Write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to urge them to act swiftly to protect Ahmad Sa’adat and all Palestinian political prisoners. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at jerusalem.jer@icrc.org, and inform them about the urgent situation of Hana Shalabi, the ongoing imprisonment of Ahmad Sa’adat, and the repression of thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Make it clear that arbitrary detention without charge or trial is unacceptable, and that the ICRC must act to protect Palestinian prisoners from cruel and inhumane treatment.
  6. Act on social media for Ahmad Sa’adat and Hana Shalabi. Share this information on Facebook, Twitter and your networks. Follow @KhaderAdnan on twitter for the latest Twitter campaigns. Tweet now: Share this alert on Twitter. 

Thank you for taking action. This campaign is now closed.

BACKGROUND ON HANA SHALABI (from Addameer)

On 23 February 2012 Ms. Hana Shalabi was given an administrative detention order for six months. On 29 February there was a discussion regarding her detention in Ofer military court. On 4 March the military court decided to reduce the detention period from six to four months, but without promising not to extend or renew it. As a result, Ms. Hana Shalabi announced she would continue to hunger strike until her release. On 7 March, an appeal hearing regarding the court’s decision was held at Ofer, and the military judge ordered the parties to try and reach a compromise by Sunday 11 March, but an agreement has not yet been reached.

Administrative detainees’ protests are growing. Two additional administrative detainees, Bilal Diab and Thair Halahleh declared hunger strikes on 1 March, which they claim will continue until their release from administrative detention. On 3 March, two other administrative detainees declared hunger strikes until their release. Since the beginning of March, a number of administrative detainees have refused to acknowledge the military court and refused to participate in legal discussions of their cases. Due to Israel’s use of administrative detention, and the unwillingness of the military court to interfere in this practice, a hunger strike serves as a non-violent and sole tool available to administrative detainees to protest and fight for their basic human rights.

Approximately 310 Palestinians are currently held in administrative detention in Israeli prisons. Administrative detention allows Israel to hold detainees for indefinitely renewable six-month periods. The arrest is granted on the basis of “secret information” and without a public indictment. Therefore, administrative detainees and their lawyers cannot defend against these allegations in court.

BACKGROUND ON AHMAD SA’ADAT AND THE JERICHO RAID (from the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat)
Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was elected to his position in 2001 following the assassination of the previous General Secretary, Abu Ali Mustafa, on August 27, 2001 by a U.S.-made Apache missile shot from an Israeli military helicopter as he sat in his office in Ramallah. PFLP fighters retaliated by assassinating Rehavam Ze’evi, the racist extremist Israeli tourism minister and head of the Moledet party, notorious for his political platform based on the “transfer” or ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, on October 17, 2001.

Sa’adat was abducted by Palestinian Authority security forces after engaging in a meeting with PA officials under false pretenses in February 2002, and was held in the Muqata’ PA presidential building in Ramallah until April 2002, when in an agreement with Israel, the U.S. and Britain, he and four of his comrades were held in the Palestinian Authority’s Jericho prison, under U.S. and British guard.

He remained in the PA jails, without trial or charge, an imprisonment that was internationally condemned, until March 14, 2006, when the prison itself was besieged by the occupation army and he and his comrades were kidnapped. While imprisoned in the PA jail in Jericho, he was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council. Since that time, he has been held in the prisons of the occupation and continually refused to recognize the illegitimate military courts of the Israeli occupation. He was sentenced to thirty years in prison on December 25, 2008 solely for his political activity, and has spent three years in isolation at the present time.