hunger strike

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The Western media continues to portray Palestinians as bomb-carrying militants, and yet this is the essence of Palestinian resistance – marches and hunger-strikes. Certainly Israel’s so-called ‘security fence’ functions to keep the protesters out of sight of the Israeli public.

Father Dave

source: rt.com…

3,000 Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike to aid Prisoners Day protest

Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have declared a hunger strike to support Prisoners Day, an annual event dedicated to 4,713 prisoners being held in Israeli jails. Fierce rallies demanding their release have reportedly been met with tear gas.

Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza attended marches and rallies on Wednesday, urging the international community to intervene and for pressure to be put on Israel in order to release some of the Palestinian prisoners.

Nearly 600 relatives of prisoners gathered for a sit-in in the rain at Arafat Square in central Ramallah after which some of them marched towards the nearby military prison at Ofer.

As activists reached the Ofer prison perimeter they tore down 50 meters of the prison fence, mounting a Palestinian flag on prison grounds.

After around four minutes of being at the fence, Israeli soldiers showed up. They fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound bombs at the protesters,” al-Akhbar newspaper quoted spokesman of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, Abdallah Abu Rahmeh as saying.

It is necessary to pressure Israel to release the Palestinian prisoners and hunger strikers,” he added.

In Gaza, hundreds of people marched from central Gaza City to the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, AFP reported.

Another rally was being held in the northern city of Nablus.

Events to mark Prisoners Day began on Tuesday in Gaza City where youngsters released thousands of balloons into the air, each bearing the name of a prisoner.

Primarily Palestinian activists are calling for the release of those on the hunger strike that has been lasting for more than 250 days. Already dubbed one of the longest strikes in history, it stirred mass outrage and weeks of street protests.

The fates of at least five of the prisoners, including Samer Issawi, are now central to the protesters.

Samer Issawi, a 32-year-old from an Arab suburb of Jerusalem, is said to be in a critical condition with his low heart rate meaning he could die at any time.

As Israel seeks to end the Palestinian prisoner’s hunger strike, Issawi was offered to stop his fast in exchange for commuting his decades-long sentence to one year behind bars, Reuters reported Wednesday citing a Palestinian official.

We don’t want to see this man commit suicide,” an Israeli official was quoted as saying. “There are elements on the Palestinian side who are eager to exploit a tragedy.

Earlier an Israeli official said they were ready to deport Palestinian Essawi to an EU or UN country, but allege the prisoner has refused.

Issawi was initially convicted of opening fire on an Israeli bus in 2002. He was released in 2011 along with over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli soldier held hostage by the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza.

But last July, he got re-arrested for what Israel called a violation of the terms of his release by crossing from his native East Jerusalem to the West Bank. Now he might face his original term behind bars and stay in jail until 2029. The prisoner has been struggling to regain his freedom by July this year.

Palestinian officials have called on Israel to send Issawi to Ramallah to receive a year of medical treatment after which Israel would allow him to return to neighboring Jerusalem. However, Jerusalem rejected the offer.

Rights group B’Tselem puts the number of Palestinians held by Israel at 4, 713 with most of them Palestinian men from the West Bank and Gaza convicted of participating in terror attacks. According to the group, 169 of them are held under administrative detention, without formally being charged.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society says more than 215 children and 14 women are in jail.

 

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Samer Issawi (born December 16, 1979) is a Palestinian member of the group Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
On 15 April 2002, Samer was captured by the Israeli army in Ramallah during the invasion of multiple West Bank cities, dubbed by Israel “Operation Defensive Shield”. Samer was sentenced to 26 years in prison after being convicted of charges of possessing of weapons and forming military groups in Jerusalem.

Nearly 10 years later, in October 2011, Samer was released along with 1027 Palestinian prisoners as a result of an Egypt-brokered deal between Hamas and the Israeli government for the return of Gilad Shalit. However, on 7 July 2012, he was re-arrested near for violating the terms of his release. He was convicted of an 8 months sentence, which includes a possible reinstatement of his original 26 year sentence.

Issawi has been on a hunger strike since August 1, 2012

Samer Issawi

Samer Issawi

source: hyas.ps/en/index.php/en/k2-category/palestinian-affairs/item/148-hunger-speech-by-samer-issawi…

Hunger Speech by Samer Issawi

Israelis:

I am Samer Issawi on hunger strike for eight consecutive months, laying in one of your hospitals called Kaplan. On my body is a medical devise connected to a surveillance room operating 24 hours a day. My heartbeats are slow and quiet and may stop at any minute, and everybody, doctors, officials and intelligence officers are waiting for my setback and my loss of life.

I chose to write to you: intellectuals, writers, lawyers and journalists, associations, and civil society activists. I invite you to visit me, to see a skeleton tied to his hospital bed, and around him three exhausted jailers. Sometimes they have their appetizing food and drinks around me.

The jailers watch my suffering, my loss of weight and my gradual melting. They often look at their watches, asking themselves in surprise: how does this damaged body have an excess of time to live after its time?

Israelis:

I’m looking for an intellectual who is through    shadowboxing, or talking to his face in mirrors. I want him to stare into my face and observe my coma, to wipe the gunpowder off his pen, and from his mind the sound of bullets, he will then see my features carved deep in his eyes, I’ll see him and he’ll sees me, I’ll see him nervous about the questions of the future, and he’ll see me, a ghost that stays with him and doesn’t leave.

You may receive instructions to write a romantic story about me, and you could do that easily after removing my humanity from me, you will watch a creature with nothing but a ribcage, breathing and choking with hunger, loosing consciousness once in a while.

And, after your cold silence, Mine will be a literary or media story that you add to your curricula, and when your students grow up they will believe that the Palestinian dies of hunger in front of Gilad’s Israeli sword, and you would then rejoice in this funerary ritual and in your cultural and moral superiority.

Israelis:

I am Samer Issawi the young “Arboush” man according to your military terms, the Jerusalemite, whom you arrested without charge, except for leaving Jerusalem to the suburbs of Jerusalem. I, whom will be tried twice for a charge without charge, because it is the military that rules in your country, and the intelligence apparatus that decides, and all other components of Israeli society ever have to do is sit in a trench and hide in the fort that keeps what is called a purity of identity – to avoid the explosion of my suspicious bones.

I have not heard one of you interfere to stop the loud wail of death, it’s as if everyone of you has turned into gravediggers, and everyone wears his military suit: the judge, the writer, the intellectual, the journalist, the merchant, the academic, and the poet. And I cannot believe that a whole society was turned into guards over my death and my life, or guardians over settlers who chase after my dreams and my trees.

Israelis:

I will die satisfied and having satisfied. I do not accept to be deported out of my homeland. I do not accept your courts and your arbitrary rule. If you had Passed over in Easter to my country and destroyed it in the name of a God of an ancient time, you will not Passover to my elegant soul which has declared disobedience. It has healed and flew and celebrated all the time that you lack. Maybe then you will understand that awareness of freedom is stronger than awareness of death.

Do not listen to those generals and those dusty myths, for the defeated will not remain defeated, and the victor will not remain a victor. History isn’t only measured by battles, massacres and prisons, but by peace with the Other and the self.

Israelis:

Listen to my voice, the voice of our time and yours! Liberate yourselves of the excess of greedy power! Do not remain prisoners of military camps and the iron doors that have shut your minds! I am not waiting for a jailer to release me, I’m waiting for you to be released from my memory.

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While the west continues to lecture Palestinian resisters for their ready resort to violence, more hunger-strikers approach death in Israeli prisons.

Why are these courageous people going unnoticed by the rest of the world? Why isn’t their treatment sparking international outrage or at least prompting a debate?

Father Dave

Palestinians in Hebron march in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike

Palestinians in Hebron march in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike (picture courtesy of the “Palestinian Solidarity Project”)

source: www.miftah.org…

When Lives Hang In The Balance

By Joharah Baker

“Silence is complicit”, read one of the signs raised by protesters in front of UN offices in Ramallah. The young men and women in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers were sending a message to the UN and to the world: your silence could kill them.

In a way, that is very true. The lives of four Palestinian hunger strikers are hanging in the balance, teetering between life and death. Two in particular – Samer Issawi and Ayman Sharawneh have crossed the 200-day mark without food. The sheer number of days is staggering, difficult for any person to wrap their heads around. And still, the world is more or less disgracefully quiet.

The Palestinians have a right to be angry. The Palestinian prisoner issue has been shuffled aside, ignored and sidelined for years now. International human rights organizations have admitted that grave violations of human rights have taken place behind Israeli bars but Israel has never been held accountable.

While tens of thousands of Palestinians have suffered in Israeli prisons over the decades since the Israeli occupation of 1967, recently, a heroic few have brought this issue back to the fore. Last year, Khader Adnan waged a 66-day hunger strike to protest Israel’s administrative detention policy, which allows Israel to imprison Palestinian political prisoners without charge for an indefinite period of time. Adnan’s strike, which ended in his eventual release and an Israeli promise not to renew his detention, encouraged others silently suffering the same fate to walk in his footsteps.

Today, Samer Issawi, on hunger strike for over 200 days, is most likely dying. Medical reports and lawyer visits tell a haunting tale of a man who has lost more than half of his body weight, is suffering from excruciating muscle and joint pains and who can no longer stand on his own. Ayman Sharawneh is also in grave medical condition, having been rushed to Israel’s Soroka Hospital after days in isolation in a Beer Sheva-area prison. Tareq Qadan and Jaafar Izzedin are also on hunger strike, weak but determined.

In a letter to his people, Samer Issawi shows that despite his weak body his is still strong-willed.

“My message is that I will continue until the end, until the last drop of water in my body, until martyrdom…I say to my people: I’m stronger than the occupation army and its racist laws. I, Samer al-Issawi, son of Jerusalem, send you my last will that, in case I fell as a martyr, you will carry my soul as a cry for all the prisoners, man and women, cry for freedom, emancipation and salvation from the nightmare of prisons and their harsh darkness.”

Samer, freed in the Shalit prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel in October 2011, was re-arrested in July 2012 on a technicality. Issawi, who was ostensibly banned from entering the Jerusalem-area town of Al Ram, was ‘caught’ there and detained for violating the terms of his release. Israeli prison authorities informed him he would have to serve out the remainder of his original sentence of 20 years. And so, he stopped eating at the beginning of last August, refusing to accept the unjustness of his situation.

It has even taken Palestinians too much time to rise up in protest. Since the prisoners began their hunger strike, there have been solidarity activities, tents and confrontations with the Israeli army in their name, but it has not been until recently that the real protests have begun. Khader Adnan declared his own hunger strike in solidarity, holed up in the Red Cross office in Ramallah and Ayman Sharawneh’s family have all stopped eating in solidarity with their son.

But, with the exception of the few and far between statements of ‘concern’ for the lives of the prisoners, the international community has said nothing. And so, coupled with their genuine concern for the lives of their brothers, husbands, sons and comrades, the Palestinians are enraged that the world would sit back and watch these good men die. Even if one of them perishes, the Palestinians will surely hold the world accountable for not stepping in and saving them.

Those who have not lived through such a struggle and under such harsh and inhumane circumstances cannot fully understand the significance of this act. These brave men are not starving to death just for their own sakes. For most, that would never be enough. But for those dedicated to the cause and to Palestine, this is the price of freedom they are willing to pay.

Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) . She can be contacted at mid@miftah.org…

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Father Roy writes:

The essay pasted below will give us food for thought. "The narrative of the Palestinians is the least told story….."   Have you noticed?  Some essays simply skim the surface of a matter and others don’t.  Some essays get right down to the nitty-gritty. 

You’ll learn who Ramzy Baroud is (the author) at the conclusion of his essay.  Click on the link and you’ll notice that the essay is getting circulation in Iran (PressTV).  It’s a small world.  Let’s try to find ways to rejoice and be glad in it. 

Peace, Roy

source: www.presstv.com……

West media distorts Palestinian discourse, consolidates Israeli narrative

By Ramzy Baroud

The conflict with Israel has lasted this long only because the Palestinians are unwilling to accept injustice and refuse to submit to oppression. Israel’s lethal weapons might have changed the landscape of Gaza and Palestine, but the will of Gazans and Palestinians is what has shaped the landscape of Palestine’s history."

What does a Palestinian farmer who is living in a village tucked in between the secluded West Bank hills, a prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli jail and a Palestinian refugee roaming the Middle East for shelter all have in common?

They are all characters in one single, authentic, solid and cohesive narrative. The problem however, is that western media and academia barely reflect that reality or intentionally distort it, disarticulate it and when necessary, defame its characters.

An authentic Palestinian narrative – one that is positioned within an original Palestinian history and articulated through Palestinian thought – is mostly absent from western media and to a lesser degree, academia. If such consideration is ever provided, everything Palestinian suddenly falls into either a side note of a larger Israeli discourse, or at best, juxtaposed to a pro-Israeli plot that is often concealed with hostility. Palestinian news stories are often disconnected, disjoined news items with seemingly no relation to other news items. They are all marred with negative connotation. In this narrative, a farmer, a prisoner and a refugee barely overlap. Due to this deliberate disconnect, Palestine becomes pieces, ideas, notions, perceptions, but nothing complete or never whole.

On the other hand, an Israeli narrative is almost always positioned within a cohesive plot, depending on the nature of the intellectual, political, academic or religious contexts. Even those who dare to criticize Israel within a mainstream western platform, do so ever prudently, gently and cautiously. The outcome of this typical exercise is that Israel’s sanctified image remains largely intact. In the meantime, Palestinians constantly jockey for validation, representation and space in a well-shielded pro-Israeli narrative.

To counter these misrepresentations, the pieces must be connected to form a collective that would truly epitomize the Palestinian experience – the story and the history behind it. Once that has been attained, there are chances for greater clarity regarding the roots of the conflict, its present manifestations and future prospects. That can only happen if we return to the basics of a protracted tragedy that is draped with the names and stories of individuals. Doing so would ultimately articulate a consistent, generational discourse that deserves to stand on its own, without belittling juxtapositions or belligerent comparisons.

All tragic stories of the greater Palestinian narrative – of those enduring the ongoing ethnic cleansing, those who are fighting for freedom and those who are seeking their right of return have the same a beginning – the Catastrophe, or Nakba. But no end is yet to be written. The storyline is neither simple nor linear. The refugee is fighting for the same freedom sought by the prisoner or the son of an old farmer, part of whose family are refugees in one place or another. It is convoluted and multilayered. It requires serious considerations of all of its aspects and characters.

Perhaps, no other place unites all of these ongoing tragedies like Gaza. Yet as powerful as the Gaza narrative is in its own right, it has been deliberately cut off from urgently related narratives. This is the case whether it is in the rest of the occupied territories or the historical landscape starting with the Nakba. To truly appreciate the situation in Gaza and its story, it must be placed within its proper context like all narratives concerning Palestine. It is essentially a Palestinian story of historical and political dimensions that surpass the current geographic and political boundaries that are demarcated by mainstream media and official narrators. The common failure to truly understand Gaza within an appropriate context whether it is the suffering, the siege, the repeated wars, the struggle, or the steadfastness and the resistance being presented, is largely based on who is telling the story, how it is told, what is included and what is omitted.

Most narratives concerning Palestinians in Western discourses are misleading or deliberately classified into simplified language that carries little resemble to reality..=20 History however, cannot be classified by good vs. bad, heroes vs. villains, moderates vs. extremists. No matter how wicked, bloody or despicable, history also tends to follow rational patterns and predictable courses.

By understanding the reasoning behind historical dialectics, one can achieve more than a simple understanding of what took place in the past. It also becomes possible to chart a fairly reasonable understanding of what lies ahead. Perhaps one of the worst aspects of today’s detached and alienating media is its reproduction of the past and mischaracterization of the present as it is based on simplified terminology. This gives the illusion of being informative, but actually manages to contribute very little to our understanding of the world at large. Such oversimplifications are dangerous because they produce an erroneous understanding of the world, which in turn compels misguided actions.

For these reasons, we are compelled to discover alternative meanings and readings of history. To start, we could try offering historical perspectives which attempt to see the world from the viewpoint of the oppressed – the refugees and the fellahin who have been denied the right to tell their own story amongst many other rights.

This view is not a sentimental one. Far from it. An elitist historical narrative maybe the dominant one, but it is not always the privileged who influence the course of history. History is also shaped by collective movements, actions and popular struggles. By denying this fact, one denies the ability of the collective to affect change. In the case of Palestinians, they are often presented as hapless multitudes or passive victims without a will of their own. This is of course a mistaken perception; the conflict with Israel has lasted this long only because the Palestinians are unwilling to accept injustice and refuse to submit to oppression. Israel’s lethal weapons might have changed the landscape of Gaza and Palestine, but the will of Gazans and Palestinians is what has shaped the landscape of Palestine’s history. This composition of farmers, prisoners, refugees and numerous other manifestations and characters of the oppressed are resilient individuals. It is essential that we understand the complexity of the past and the present to evolve in our understanding of the conflict, not merely to appreciate its involvement, but also to contribute positively to its resolution.

The Palestinian narrative has long either denied any meaningful access to the media or tainted through the very circles that propped up and sanctified Israel’s image as an oasis of democracy and a pivot of civilization. In recent years however, things began to change thanks to developments such as the internet and various global civil society movements. Although it has yet to reach a critical mass or affect a major paradigm shift in public opinion, these voices have been able to impose a long-neglected story that has been seen mostly through Israeli eyes.

A narrative that is centered on the stories reflecting history, reality and aspirations of ordinary people will allow for a genuine understanding of the real dynamics that drive the conflict. These stories that define whole generations of Palestinians are powerful enough to challenge the ongoing partiality and polarization.

The fact is Palestinians are neither potential "martyrs" nor potential "terrorists". They are people who are being denied basic human rights, who have been dispossessed from their lands and are grievously mistreated. They have resisted for over six decades and they will continue to resist until they acquire their fundamental human rights. This is the core of the Palestinian narrative, yet it is the least told story. A true understanding would require a greater exposure of the extraordinary, collective narrative of the "ordinary people."

RB/HMV

Ramzy Baroud is a widely published and translated author. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com…. He has authored several books and contributed to many books, anthologies and academic journals. His books include Searching Jenin, Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion, and The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle.. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). Visit his website: ramzybaroud.net…. More articles by Ramzy Baroud: www.presstv.ir/Contributors/229899.html…