Palestinians take on #SaltWaterChallenge, plan ‘Day of Rage’ to stand with prisoners

Published April 27th, 2017 - 04:17 GMT
An elderly woman walks past closed shops in the Old City of Jerusalem on April 27, 2017, during a trade strike in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
An elderly woman walks past closed shops in the Old City of Jerusalem on April 27, 2017, during a trade strike in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

As some 1,500 Palestinian prisoners entered their 11th day of a hunger strike, thousands of Palestinians also closed up shop across the West Bank in a general strike in solidarity with the prisoners.

Locals told Ma'an News that the eerily empty streets were reminiscent of the days before the First Intifada, when Palestinians organized strikes as a form of civil disobedience against Israeli forces.

In addition to the strikes taking place on the ground, Palestinian activists also launched a social media campaign to shed more light on the hunger strikers.

The campaign, making the rounds on Twitter with the hashtag #SaltWaterChallenge, or #تحدي_مي_وملح in Arabic, was initiated in a video post by Aarab Marwan Barghouti, the son of Marwan Barghouti, who is leading the prisoners' hunger strike.

Barghouti is serving out five life sentences for murder convictions.

The hunger strikers are protesting the Israeli policy of "administrative detention" which has seen thousands of Palestinians detained indefinitely without charge or trial.

The prisoners have issued demands ranging from better health care, to access to phones, to easier visits for family members.

The challenge calls on supporters to drink a glass of water mixed with salt, then nominate two others to do the same - similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral in 2014.

"Why salt water? Because the prisoners have been living only on salt water for seven days so far," Aarab Barghouti explains in the video.

Saltwater is usually the only thing prisoners will consume while on hunger strike, although some have resorted to mixing sugar in with water.

Hundreds have since joined in the challenge, including Arab Idol stars Mohammed Assaf and Yacoub Shaheen.

The action comes a day before the Fatah movement's calls for a Day of Rage on April 28, in which Palestinians are expected to clash with Israeli forces.

Lindsey Leger

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