“Freedom or Death:” Palestinian Political Prisoner Bilal Kayed’s Hunger Strike Escalates. Palestinian political dissident remains in Israeli Gulag in failing health in protest of Israeli brutality
By Dezeray Lyn
In Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon, historic Palestine, shackles hold fast to the right hand and left foot of Palestinian political prisoner Bilal Kayed. The 34-year-old has been on a water only hunger strike since July 15th when a fourteen-year sentence for political affiliation with the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was due to end.
But as Kayed’s family waited beyond the clutches of Israeli prison guards to embrace Bilal, they would instead be informed that their loved one had been deferred to Israel’s illegal and indefinitely renewable system of administrative detention.
Fast forward nearly two months and Bilal has now refused all medical examinations, even as his health continues to deteriorate daily during this dangerous phase in his over fifty-day hunger strike. He also has refused legal representation by Palestinian Authority lawyers, accepting aid in this regard solely from Addameer, a prisoner solidarity organization.
This brings to light an ongoing tension between occupied Palestinians in the West Bank and the governing body who has been viewed as wielding a small sword late in the battle during Kayed’s and other hunger striking Palestinian prisoner’s liberation struggles.
In Barzilai, the same type of invasive and antagonistic abuse tactics reported to have been deployed by Israeli military, holding occupation in the hospital rooms of shackled and starving Palestinian revolutionaries in the past, are being reported by Kayed.
Motion detection alarms sound in twenty minute intervals and whenever there is movement in the room. Kayed’s room is also occupied around the clock by Israeli military personnel, an infringement on his privacy and which seem to render the shackles, presumably to prevent a man in the advanced stages of starvation from escaping, yet another Israeli innovation in the dehumanization of Palestinians.
In a conversation with his Addameer lawyer, attorney Farah Bayadsi, Kayed, “stated that he would rather die of starvation than give up his rights and those of his fellow prisoners and detainees.”
In the interim at least one hundred other Palestinian political prisoners have launched solidarity hunger strikes, including PFLP Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat and Palestinian circus performer Mohammed Abu Sakha, known for his work with Palestinian children.
The response to the solidarity strikes have been the predictable backlash by the Israeli prison system including solitary confinement, restricting visits by prisoner’s family members and cell raids.
The Israeli entity is once again gambling cavalierly with Palestinian life. The solidarity hunger strikes, equivalent to one hundred flashlights beaming out from the dregs of occupation jails, have added to Palestinian national unity against the blatant and flagrant injustices levied against those with even an intellectual stance against their own subjugation.
International unity with the Palestinian state has been vocalized in the form of ongoing demonstrations, solidarity hunger strikes and vigils for Bilal Kayed and all other captives of the brutal mechanisms of Israeli-state domination.
And within the belly of the beast, Israeli NGO’s The Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI) along with several others have joined the call for Kayed’s immediate release and for an immediate end to what they have collectively deemed to be ‘degrading’ practices by Israeli medical and prison personnel in their handling and treatment of Palestinian prisoner hunger strikers.
Kayed’s revolutionary resistance to state oppression rages on.