Amira Hass hopes the resistance of prisoners will inspire collective action by Palestinians outside; James Zogby says Israel provokes violence by the deplorable way it treats Palestinians.
There hasn’t yet been an article to repost on what makes this hunger strike different but prisoners and supporters have an air of confidence: they can’t lose. Either they get concessions or they die. Either way the Israeli state loses. Some witty, grave and number-crunching pieces.
Israel has made Marwan Barghouti an iconic and exemplary figure amongst Palestinians. He was a leader in the first intifada (for which he was imprisoned after his ‘show trial’) and has constantly urged non-violent resistance. His intelligence and integrity have won him many admirers. He tells us here why he and thousands of Palestinian prisoners have embarked on a hunger strike.
A spell in an Israeli prison is a rite of passage for young Palestinian activists. Two-fifths of all Palestinian men have endured it. Israel has created a cadre of angry activists by locking up so many for such flimsy reasons.
The detention without charge or trial of Palestinians thought to be enemies of the Israeli state has long been a crude Israeli weapon. Protest about its use – here focusing on Bilal Kayed – is now quicker and more widespread than it was at the start.
Mohammad al-Qiq, the Palestinian journalist held under ‘administrative detention’ for over 3 months has ended his protest hunger strike after 94 days. He existed only on tap water. The Israeli Prison Service feared he was about to die under their ‘care’. There was no evidence that he was an imminent threat to Israeli security when he was arrested – the only possible justification for an otherwise unlawful act of wrongful imprisonent.
Like 700 other Palestinians, Mohammad Al-Qiq is being held under administrative detention – no charge, no evidence, no trial. He has been on hunger strike for three months and is on the edge of organ failure. Many bodies have taken up his case. His employer, Saudi-owned Al-Majd Television, is not known to have lifted a finger on his behalf.
If Israeli security forces hoped that imprisoning Palestinian political activists would ‘disappear’ them from public life they were wrong. The more there are, the longer they languish inside, the more who die from their treatment in prison the louder the demand that they be freed. Today, April 17th, is Palestinian Political Prisoners Day when public voices say freedom will pave the way for peace.
Four Members of the European Parliament visited Israel last week to look into the condition of prisoners held on administrative detention, that is, without due process of law. This followed a resolution of the EU parliament in 2013 following the death in custody of Arafat Jaradat. The resolution has been sent on to all bodies concerned with due process by states. The delegation was denied access to any prisoners and to the Israeli Ministries of Justice, the Interior and Foreign Affairs.
It doesn’t take much for a Palestinian to end up in an Israeli jail, often without being charged, tried or convicted of any crime. Throwing stones, speaking in public against the occupation, being a leader of a political party or a member of Palestine’s legislative council – any of these is enough for the IDF to abduct you and lock you in an Israeli prison. Say the word ‘security’ and due process dies. A global week of action started October 17th.
Israeli authorities, reportedy including PM Netanyahu, Shin Bet and the prison service, have struck a deal with the lawyers of the gravely ill Samer Issawi, who has been on hunger strike since August 1. The deal renews the potency of the hunger strike, not least because of the symbolic and potent role that political prisoners have amongst Palestinians.
On 9th April 2013 political prisoner Samer Issawi, now in his eight month on hunger strike and perilously weak, issued a moving call to Israelis to visit him in hospital. Two who tried were immediately arrested. One group of Israeli authors and scholars including Amos Oz responded, not by calling for his release but for him to call off his hunger strike. Another group responded in the spirit Issawi wished for, expressing their profound solidarity with him and the cause he is willing and ready to die for.
Jaffa/Yaffa is a rare Israeli town where Jews and Palestinians campaign together. They have been holding daily protests against adminstrative detention and, in particular, for prisoner Samer Issawi for the last few weeks. Most Jewish Israelis ignore the issue and prefer to assume all Palestinian prisoners are terrorists.
The death of Arafat Jadarat in prison, death of Ashraf Abu Thare shortly after release from prison, the hunger strikes of Samer Issawi and hundreds of others have returned the treatment of political prisoners in Israel (and the oPt), especially the use of torture, to the leading edge of political activity. Comments and reports on the use of torture in Israel, 2008-13.
IRIN provides a usefully factual report on Israel’s prison system for Palestinians, and on the physical and political effects of the mass hunger strike. There are no political prisoners – only ‘security prisoners’. Mahmoud al-Sarsak is the only one detained as an ‘unlawful combatant’.
Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of two hunger strikers (see post below, Denial and solidarity meet hunger strike prisoners). They are now near death. Only outside pressure will move the judicial, military and political authorities. JfJfP urges everyone to put that pressure on. A petition from JVP folows. Lastly, an account in Ha’aretz of what happens to the body during starvation.
Despite the seriousness of the mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli gaols, most of the world is ignoring it. Richard Falk is virtually alone as a diplomat in making a public noise about it – highlighting its significance as a form of non-violent action. His angry blog, followed by a news report. Third, Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights on the breach of medical ethics as 2 men near death
Inspired by the hunger strike of Khader Adnan, Palestinians and supporters have made Israeli treatment of political prisoners a paramount campaign. April 17th has been declared Palestinian Political Prisoners’ Day – an event supported by JfJfP. Posted here, some of the actions, supporters and fact sheets launched for this day.
Rabbi Brian Walt is entirely in favour of freeing Gilad Shalid immediately, yet finds the “singular focus in Israel and the American Jewish community on the release of Gilad Shalit… profoundly problematic.” He reproduces Michael Levin’s new poster calling for the release of ALL the prisoners and links to statistics on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli gaols. In the commentary Naomi Paz Greenberg questions whether the language used for this call is appropriate; and Rabbi Brian and others join in the discussion.
Currently about 7,000 Palestinians are political prisoners in Israeli goals.They are often subject to cruel and degrading treatment which includes being held in cramped and confined spaces, served poor quality food, deprived of family visits and arbitrarily beaten, tear gassed or placed in solitary confinement…