Nahar al-Saadi with his mother

Nahar al-Saadi, 33, has been on hunger strike for 16 consecutive days in protest of denial of family visits and solitary confinement; al-Saadi has been held in solitary confinement since May of 2013, despite an earlier agreement with Palestinian prisoners to abolish solitary confinement in order to end the mass hunger strike of April 2012.

Al-Saadi is serving four life sentences plus 20 years. The leadership of the prisoners of the Islamic Jihad movement stated that it has given its demands to the prison authorities on 7 December, stating that the prisoners will join Saadi’s strike in solidarity in successively larger groups if their demands are ignored. They are calling for the abolition of isolation and the release into general population of al-Saadi and all other isolated Palestinian prisoners.

Rafat Hamdouna of the Palestinian Prisoners Research Center said that the Israeli security and government agencies involved in the administration of the prison service have been engaged in unprecedented attacks on prisoners in all prisons, and that violations are escalating, particularly regarding the transport of prisoners, sudden transfers between prisons, denial of family visits, medical neglect and the imposition of collective and individual sanctions since June 2014, in addition to violent and provocative raids under the pretexts of inspections. Hamdouna noted that Palestinian prisoners have repeatedly demanded that these policies come to an end and that the prisoners’ movement will not stand by in the face of these violations. Hamdouna urged Palestinian, Arab and international human rights and justice advocates to pressure the occupation to end these attacks on the prisoners and their rights.

Palestinian prisoners of all factions had previously announced an escalating series of protests against the use of isolation and the escalating violations, but on December 2, announced a 10-day postponement of their action, requiring a response from the prison administration within 10 days. The prisoners’ demands include an end to the policy of solitary confinement, introduction of blankets and winter clothing, an end to price increases in the canteen (prison commissary), provision of proper health care and an end to medical neglect, an end to the denial of family visits, and a restoration of the status of prisoners to the situation prior to June 2014. Following the prison administration’s response, Palestinian prisoners will conduct a mass campaign of hunger strikes and civil disobedience should the prison authority reject their demands.

Riyad al-Ashqar of the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies said that the use of isolation and solitary confinement in occupation prisons has been escalating of late to the highest level since the end of the April 2012 hunger strike and the release from isolation of the 19 prisoners then held in solitary confinement. Ashqar noted that the occupation has gradually re-introduced the policy for short terms and then longer terms. He said that there are 10 isolated prisoners in Nafha prison; 9 in Megiddo; 4 in Eshel; as well and 54 prisoners from Ashkelon prison suddenly transferred to isolation sections in other prisons following a strip-search, allegedly on a “temporary” basis, under the pretext of conducting room inspections. He noted that isolated prisoners are allowed family visits only once every 2 months, are given exercise only individually for one hour each day while handcuffed, and their cells are closed from natural light, noting that they are inspected three times daily, including once after midnight. They are also denied access to books and other media on a regular basis.