Palestinian Hunger Games

Some 2000 of the estimated 4600 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons are now hunger striking. Three hundred of them have been deprived of the right of habeas corpus and are being held in without charge or trial. Others are routinely tossed into solitary confinement, which, depending on how it is deployed, could be a severe violation of their human rights. Some 10 of the hunger strikers are severely affected and some near death.

The National (UAE) has a good overview of the issue.

While some of these prisoners were arrested on suspicion of terrorism, others are guilty of protesting, stone-throwing or thinking wrong thoughts. All are where they are because they won’t cooperate with Israel’s illegal 45 year old military occupation of and large-scale theft of Palestinian land, though the violent among them were wrong if any harmed civilians.

In any case, if the prisoners have committed crimes, they should be charged and the state should prove it in court, otherwise they are kidnapping victims, not prisoners in a civilized penal system. And, solitary confinement should be used against those who commit violence against other prisoners or guards, not to punish thought crimes.

Palestinians are being kept stateless by Israel. which means they have no rights. The occupation is costing them an estimated $7 billion a year. Also, they have no rights.

Some Tunisian cabinet ministers in the new democratic government are doing one-day fasts in solidarity with the prisoners, in what could become a movement.

Perhaps fearing a growing PR debacle, Israeli authorities are now offering some concessions, including on the issue of solitary confinement.

12 Responses

  1. Perhaps readers of this blog could fast one day a week in solidarity? I recall attending a talk by Dick Gregory in the 70’s at the University of San Diego and he asked the audience to consider fasting one day a week.

    • If it isn’t publicized, it never happened.

      Suppose many of us participate in the fast? How would the media be alerted that this is a Big Story?

  2. Thousands of prisioners on hunger strike.Not a peep in western media.Have we heard enough about the Chinese dissident yet??

    • I think the media can only handle one case of human rights violation at a time. 2000? They wouldn’t know how to cover that story.

  3. A better, but highly unlikely action would be that Israel engage in a fast from US financial and materiel support. Wishful thinking, but how long would the occupation last without US dollars and weapons?

    • A USA which could withhold money could also withhold its UNSC veto, vastly more important. therefore, ipso facto, QED, neither will happen. (After all, what’s special about today?)

      • Pabelmont, you’re right. The veto is now more important than the aid, because the Likud has worked for years to reduce US leverage on its actions. Back in the late ’90s, the Likud commissioned a study by US Jewish neocons, meaning of course members of Cheney’s Project For A New American Century, to plan out a new Israeli power structure. The paper was called “Clean Break”. It proposed that Israel do three things:

        1. destroy socialistic practices and create a Reaganite right-wing economy

        2. turn the revenues from this into a bulwark against Washington using its aid money to blackmail Jerusalem.

        3. thus freed from any external constraint, overthrow the governments of all the Moslem countries that it disliked

        Of course, once those neocons took over Washington in ’00, they tried to carry out #3 themselves and thus made #2 irrelevant. But it pays off now. #1 may in fact have also been imposed on America by these neocons. For all practical purposes, the Likud and the GOP share the same insane Politburo.

  4. I think the Tunisian politicians going on hunger strikes is something that would really get attention. Arabs are used to their leaders being distant, indifferent, and hypocrites gorging on the public trust. For elected Arab leaders to do this together would damage the Israeli-American Catch-22 meme that Palestinians can always move to Arab countries to get their basic rights, but if the other Arabs are too selfish to treat them as equals, then it proves all Arabs are subhuman animals, thus it’s okay for Israelis to persecute Arabs. Catch-22.

  5. I remember back about 20 years ago, Israel would deport Palestinians to Lebanon and some deportees eventually decided to resist deportation by remaining at the border and refusing to leave. Well-wishers brought food to the deportees and the whole situation was a public relations nightmare for Israel.

    This situation is shaping up as another P.R. embarrasssment for the Israeli government.

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