The ANC has affirmed its solidarity with the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike by 1 600 Palestinian prisoners in 200 Israeli jails. Picture: Nasser Nasser/AP
Johannesburg – The African National Congress (ANC) has affirmed its solidarity with the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike by 1600 Palestinian prisoners in 200 Israeli jails.

The hunger strike has entered its second week.

The prisoners are on strike to draw attention to the plight of Palestinian political prisoners, many of whom are held in solitary confinement.

In a letter addressed to parliamentarians around the world, jailed Palestinian MP Marwan Barghouthi has called the arrest of Palestinian MP’s by Israel "an insult to Parliamentarians everywhere ... an insult to freedom and justice, and an insult to human rights everywhere".

"The ANC concurs with the sentiments expressed by Comrade Barghouthi, and once again affirms the organisation’s position that the Israeli state’s pattern of arbitrary arrests and detention without trial of Palestinians bears the hallmarks of apartheid South Africa," the organisation said in a Wednesday press release.

"Progressive organisations in South Africa and around the world should be appalled that prisoners are denied their basic human rights, in Israel and everywhere else the world. It is a scathing indictment of the lack of human rights culture prevalent globally that prisoners of conscience are in detention in many parts of the world," it added.

According to media reports, Israel has imposed general closures in the West Bank to prevent gatherings in support of the prisoners on hunger strike.

This denial of the legitimate right to protest should be condemned.

During apartheid’s darkest days, hunger strikes where often the only means by which political prisoners were able to draw attention to their plight, and countless ANC, SACP UDF cadres embarked on hunger strikes in prison, including on Robben Island, said the ANC.

The ANC said it affirms that the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands has gone on for far too long.

For far too long Palestinians have been denied their right to self-determination.

The ANC said it knows too well that every attempt will be made to break the morale of the prisoners on hunger strike; and salutes the Palestinian prisoners for their determination and courage.

In the same week that workers of the world united to mark May Day, the ANC said it affirms the rallying call of the progressive worker’s movement: that An Injury to One is an Injury to All. 

In a related development former Robben Island political prisoner Laloo Chiba (86), who was incarcerated 18 years, ended a 24-hour hunger strike on Wednesday night.

Chiba, together with a range of individuals, went on the solidarity hunger strike in support of the Palestinian political prisoners.