Palestinian in “critical condition” on day 203 of hunger strike
February 12, 2013

Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi is in “critical condition” after 203 days spent on a hunger strike, activists said, sparking fears on Monday that he might not survive his protest against Israel’s abusive prison system.

Issawi is one of thousands of Palestinian prisoners who have gone on hunger strikes in the past year to denounce Israel’s policy of administrative detention and poor life conditions in prisons.

The 33-year old has been refusing food since July 2012, making it one of the longest hunger strikes in the world.

Issawi stopped drinking water and taking vitamins earlier this month, and is refusing medical care. His weight dropped to less than 47 kilograms and he is confined to a wheelchair, suffering from loss of vision, fainting and vomiting blood.

“His heart could stop at any moment,” said Daleen Elshaer, a coordinator for the Free Samer Issawi Campaign.

Elshaer told Al-Akhbar that Issawi’s lawyer and human rights activists were denied accessed to Issawi until Saturday during his most recent hospitalization outside of the infamous Ramlah prison.

Issawi was first arrested in 2002 and sentenced to thirty years in prison over weapons possession and forming a military group. He was released in an October 2011 prisoner swap agreement between Israel and Hamas in which the Jewish state freed 1,027 mostly-Palestinians in exchange for an Israeli soldier captured in 2006.

He was rearrested on 7 July 2012 and accused of violating the terms of his release by leaving Jerusalem. Israeli prosecutors are seeking to cancel his amnesty and detain him for 20 years, the remainder of his previous sentence, despite there being no other charges against him.

Another Palestinian hunger striker, Jaafar Ezzedine, recently threatened to follow in Issawi’s footsteps and refuse water unless Israel meets his demands, according to the Palestine News Network.

According to prisoners rights group Addameer, 4,743 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of January, including 178 in administrative detention.

While the campaign to free Issawi has tried to attract broader international attention, Elshaer said they are too often faced with a wall of silence.

“Samer is non-violently resisting a violent occupation, but nobody is willing to talk about him because he is Palestinian,” she said. “Would it take his death for people to cover his story?”

Elshaer added that Issawi’s family has been repeatedly harassed by Israeli forces. Water access was cut to his sister’s house, and his brother’s home was reportedly demolished by the Israeli army in early January.

But while Issawi’s health is a big cause for concern for his supporters, they keep faith in him and his cause.

“God is protecting him because he is innocent,” Elshaer asserted.

US Media Ignores Palestinian Hunger Striker

Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi, 33, embarked on a hunger strike over 203 days ago to protest Israel’s inhumane treatment of detainees, making it one of the longest hunger strikes in human history.

If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of Samer Issawi, it’s probably because western media outlets are ignoring his plight as if to say his life doesn’t matter.

Alison Weir, executive director of If Americans Knew, says the Associated Press has run exactly zero stories on Issawi’s hunger strike and “refuses to answer queries on the subject”. But it’s not just the AP.

A Google News search of “Samer Issawi” brings up a handful of articles from western media all of which are independent and alternative outlets. If not for the pleas on social media from the Free Samer Issawi Campaign and other supporters of Palestinian human rights, the world would be left in the dark about Issawi’s looming death.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a person doesn’t eat for 200 days, Weir reports that “Issawi’s internal organs are starting to shut down, he can no longer walk, he is reportedly suffering loss of vision and vomiting blood, it is difficult for him talk, and he is increasingly near death. He has lost over half his body weight.

And it’s highly unlikely that the US media outlets are unaware of Issawi’s condition given that “[t]here have been banner drops in Washington, D.C, Chicago, Cleveland, Austin, and other parts of the world; demonstrations and vigils in numerous cities; and Issawi’s plight has made it onto Twitter’s world-trending list at least four times this month.

I can’t imagine such deafening silence from the Associated Press, Reuters, the New York Times, and the Washington Post if the hunger striker were an Israeli citizen rotting away in Palestinian detention. Of course for that to even enter the realm of possibility, there would need to be an Israeli citizen in Palestinian detention. The last time that happened was when Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured and imprisoned by Hamas for five years.

Unlike Issawi, Shalit was the focus of magazine features and television programs around the world and he never had to starve himself for it. Meanwhile, 10,000 Palestinians, including children, languished in Israeli prisons during the same time period, many without ever receiving a trial. The fact that they never warranted even a fraction of the media coverage reserved for Shalit implies that that one Israeli life is worth thousands of Palestinian lives. As if to solidify this mentality, Shalit was released in a prisoner swap in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, one of whom was Samer Issawi.

Ex-Palestinian prisoner, Samer Issawi has finally been released from Israeli prison.

Issawi spent 277 days on hunger strike, was hospitalized, and came close to death. This is him celebrating in his hometown of Issawiya, Jerusalem.

He was held in administrative detention - i.e. with no charges against him and with no knowledge of what he was being accused of - and released in the Gilad Shalit deal, but then imprisoned again in August 2012.

Best Christmas present ever.

In the name of God the Merciful

Greetings to all the Palestinian people and the freedom loving people of the world, those who take part in the battle for the freedom of the prisoners, all the prisoners, and first of all the heroic sick prisoners in the Ramlah Prison hospital. These heroes who have sacrificed their bodies and long years to Palestine and the Palestinian people deserve from us that we struggle for their liberation.

Today the Palestinian people proved to the occupation, despite the difficult conditions they go through, that the national cause and the prisoners’ issue are of high priority for every Palestinian. The economic situation and unemployment do not distract the Palestinian people from their prisoners, because they are people of bravery who took upon themselves to defend the Arab and Islamic nation and its holy sites. It saddens me so much that I am not with you to share with you this great battle for supporting the prisoners. But I decided to escalate my strike by avoiding drinking water in order to join this movement and the great battle that you wage on the ground.

I send a warm greeting for all of you who stay in the protest tents everywhere, especially those who are on hunger strike. I send greetings to the participants at the Nazareth tent, first of them Father Atallah Hanna, and to all the people involved in the sit-ins and marches in support of the prisoners.

I send greetings to the heroes who gathered yesterday in front of the court and broke all standards, restrictions and concepts of the occupation (the division between Western Jerusalem and Eastern Jerusalem). They proved to the occupation that AlQuds is one, it is our city, and their pure feet wandered the alleys that were walked by our forefathers before this occupation came, kill them and expels the rest of them.

I greet you, I’m proud of you and I draw the power to resist and my morale from you and your struggle. Yesterday, when I saw you in front of the courthouse, I became free and my jailer became the prisoner. I noticed the humiliation on the guards’ faces when they saw you clinging to your land despite the Judaization.

By God, I kiss those feet that liberated yesterday part of the lands of our holy city and raised the Palestinian flag high. Kissing these pure feet is an honor for me. You are Blessed, Jerusalem, with your heroic sons, the protectors of the Holy Land, the Church of the Resurrection and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. We will meet soon, God willing, O heroes of Palestine and the free people of the world.

I send my greetings to the free people of the world everywhere, especially in our sister Egypt, to the fans of Zamalek group and Al-Jazeera Sports commentator. I send my greetings and salute to every person. And to Shahed and Maleka.

Concerning my health, I was transferred on Thursday to some hospital, I do not remember its name, after suffering a sharp drop in blood pressure and heart beat where the pressure was 74/40 and pulse 35 beats per minute. I lost consciousness.

I continue my strike. Either Freedom or Martyrdom.

- Samer Issawi, the Palestinian hunger striker who has refused food for more than 200 days. He was sentenced to eight months in prison, but because of time served, he will be released on March 6.


But his struggle still isn’t over. Free Samer & all political prisoners! 

In solidarity with the longest hunger striker in history: Samer Issawi

Click for the high-resolution version

Battle of the Empty Stomachs: I stand in solidarity with Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi’s defiance of tyranny in the longest hunger strike in history.

معركة الأمعاء الخاوية: أنا متضامن مع الأسير الفلسطيني سامر العيساوي في مواجهته للطغيان في أطول إضراب عن الطعام في التاريخ.


Brothers and sisters: In solidarity with the Palestinian cause and in light of the imposed media blackout, I hope that you spread this image as much as possible. Thanks.

أخوتي وأخواتي، نصرةً للقضية الفلسطينية ونظراً للتعتيم الإعلامي، أرجو أن تنشروا هذه الصورة على أوسع نطاق وشكراً.

CONFIRMED: There has been an initial agreement with Palestinian legendary hunger striker Samer Issawi on his own terms and the “Israeli Prison Service (IPS)” that in exchange for ending his hunger strike he carries out an additional 8 months in prison to end all his military court charges once in for all without any further legal action against him regarding his case and that he be released un-condtionally to his home in al Issawia in the district of Jerusalem. According to lawyer Jawad Bulous this agreement is expected be finalized in the coming hours and a press release by the Palestinian Prisoners Club will be held regarding the deal agreement. Samer Issawi has resumed his supplements as of midnight Palestine time and thanks every single person and organization that has stood by his side and supported his fight for freedom and justice! 

via The Free Samer Issawi Campaign

Samer Issawi is a Palestinian hunger striker detained for no charge or even a fair trial. He is now on his 174th day and his health is deteriorating very quickly and about to die. Only imagine that you are in a silent void filled with your own fears and pain, in a deafening silence. You wait for somebody to arrive, but nobody, not even your loved ones are allowed to visit you. The only human contact is with the guards who are the lords and masters over every minute of your day. It is a sort of a living grave where fears unfold. You have nightmares about not having a place to be in. And no reason is given for your detention, and no process is outlined for your release. And consider going without food, and not just for the evening, but for days and days. And what you can imagine does not get near to the reality of what the prisoners are feeling. But the link between the prisoners and you will give them power and strength over their misery, to overcome some of what they are facing now. This is Samer Issawi; No more than a human asking for his freedom

Samer Issawi accepts deal to end his hunger strike!

Palestinian hunger striking prisoner Samer Issawi has agreed to end his hunger strike, and will be released to his home Jerusalem in eight months’ time, Reuters reported late Monday night.

The details of the deal were not immediately clear, but Issawi has insisted all along that he would not agree to be exiled, like other released prisoners have.


I say to my people: I’m stronger than the occupation army and its racist laws. I, Samer Issawi, son of Jerusalem, send you my last will that, in case I fell as a martyr, you will carry my soul as a cry for all the prisoners, men and women, cry for freedom, emancipation and salvation from the nightmare of prisons and their harsh darkness.
—  Samer Issawi