Report From Inside Ofer Prison: Prisoners on Hunger Strike

23 December 2008

Palestine Solidarity Project coordinator Mohammed “Hamude” Abu Maria is currently being held in Ofer Prison. Saturday morning, December 20, prisoners were bombarded with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, attacked with dogs and eventually Israeli armored police after they began resisting the brutal and degrading treatment of prisoners by prison guards.
Mohammed reported to PSP that the confrontation started after guards handcuffed several prisoners and brought dogs into the tents where hundreds of Palestinians are held during their daily “search” of property. On Saturday, with no apparent reason, guards began confiscating and destroying prisoner property. Prisoners protested and were met with savage force with guards shooting tear gas into the prisoner enclosures. Several people were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and others with heart and respiratory problems were forced to stay inside gas-filled tents for hours without any medical treatment.

The prisoners are now all engaging in a hunger-strike, demanding that they be treated with dignity and given basic rights including being able to communicate with other tents, maintain personal property, and not being bound during searches. Currently the Israeli military is forbidding any visits to Ofer by family members or international bodies such as the Red Cross.

All Palestinian prisoners, in Ofer and prisons throughout Occupied Palestine and Israel, are political prisoners, having been arrested by an occupying government. Several dozen prisoners in Ofer, including Mohammed, are being held without charge or trial in “administrative detention”. They are demanding to be treated humanely under international regulations. There are over 11,000 Palestinians being held in Israeli military prisons. The future of Palestinian prisoners continues to be an important issue in discussions about a future resolution to the Israeli Occupation.