Abdel-Qader Abul-Fahem, the first Palestinian to pass martyr in hunger strike on July 11th 1970. Recently arrested and recovering from 72 shots in his body, Abdel-Qader insisted to share his comrades in the first collective hunger strike for the Palestinian prisoners, and told them: “I wont stay in the rear tunnel.”
His comrades and colleagues begged him to rest until he recovers from his wounds, but he insisted to share the strike, as he shared the revolution since his early childhood, and as suffering 72 woulds, he couldn’t stay for long and died after 5 days of the strike .
Hunger strike is the last, and probably the only mean that a prisoner (living in an unjustifiable and crushing reality) resort to in order to regain his basic rights and the sense of humanity.
Hunger strike as a mean to regain the sense of humanity and to restore connection to reality which is known and has been used in the Palestinian history but the first “major” collective hunger strike was held as early as 1970. The Palestinian prisoners then lived the same conditions as the Nazi concentration camps where they were forced to work in the zionist military industry for long hours and slumber exhausted in in the evening just for the night. The Zionists photocopied the Nazi Concentration camps where the Palestinian prisoners were used as slaves in the zionist concentration camps with no right but just to survive in order to serve the zionist occupation machine. The first demand for the Palestinian prisoners then, for which Abdel-Qader passed martyr, was to stop being used to serve the zionist military industry, and hence to get their basic rights. No pen or paper was allowed in, no books, no time for life, no family visits and even the Red Cross visits are limited, delayed and controlled.
In late 1980, during the First Intifada, we had the luxury to have books, papers and pens to read and write. We didn’t have to do compulsory work, but we had our time which we mostly spent in reading, writing and discussion… ALL this luxury was because of our comrade Abdel-Qader Abul-Fahm and the firs “major” hunger strike, which eventually was followed by other ones to improve the living conditions for the prisoners.
Jail life is miserable whatever the situation was as “It is a human nature to heed the call for FREEDOM regardless of the cost.”, the freedom that you are basically in jail fighting for it.
The life in prison is a constant struggle against your jailers, who are experts in turning your life into hell if they could. The zionist jailers use systematic policy to turn the prisoners life into a constant suffering and that includes daily harassment and night raids, beating the prisoners with clubs after isolating them into small groups or individually, giving you a rubbish of food, “withdrawing” your basic rights like taking all the books, papers and pens you have, isolating the leaders in solitary confinement, using the “naked search” to humiliate the prisoners, and other of countless “creative” measures that are applied on the prisoners in consultation with the zionist intelligence agency, the interrogators and even the zionist doctors and paramedics.
In late 1989, I remember I had to do a hunger strike for a short time, just 5 days, during which we could force the “jail administration” to comply and give back some of our confiscated basic rights like books, papers and pens, in addition we could get other rights for the first time as getting a radio transistor for each room, and reducing the jamming numbers of prisoners in each room.
Hunger strike is destructive on the human body, and the more it lasts, the more it is destructive both on the body and mental health. Suffering starts from the first 24 hours by stomachache and unrest. After 24 hours headache starts and it becomes severe and painful headache in day 2-5 after that you lose the sense of the headache and starts the constant insomnia in which you have a sleep disorder and your body starts to get weaker and thinner.
I remember from day one we stared drinking as much as we can water with some salt either by throwing some salt in the mouth or by melting it in the water. After a day or two, you start to feel weakness creeping into your body and bones, you cant exert much efforts and (as a kid then) we were advised to stay laying in bed, and when we want to get up or walk, to do that slowly in order to reduce the pain (mostly headache) and save energy. Luckily we didn’t have to strike for long and we all endured the 5 days.
However, the real danger on the human body starts after three weeks with inability to walk and even sometimes in ability to talk. Lots of problems start like stomach disorder and hair starts falling. skin starts peeling, weakness in the whole body in addition to mental instability, and more problems start in all the vital organs like liver, heart and the respiratory system.
Currently there are more than 6300 Palestinian political prisoners including 300 children and 500 prisoners detained administratively without any charge or trial, in clear violation to the International law. These are exposed routinely and systematically to torture as there are over 200 torture methods used against hem.
Mohammed Kilani, who has experienced many interrogations, noted that his solitary confinement which exceeded two months during which he was forced to remain chained to a chair, was the harshest method of torture he has suffered.
He also added that throughout the entire prison system across the globe, there exists no torture method that has not been thought of or used by the Israeli authorities at some point.
Facing the daily torture and humiliation, the Palestinian prisoners have no choice but to revolt and regain their dignity and sense of humanity. In jail you have no mean to defend yourself but to fight back where your jailer cant score. But once you start a hunger strike you got to fight to the end and have control over your body and mind.
The human body’s ability to endure is tremendous, specially when he believes and fights for a just cause like the Palestinian political prisoners nowadays. Probably their bodies already started to get weak in their fifth day, but I do believe that their spirit is high sky, as it was always.
Sami, the bedouin