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Palestine: Issawi might die any moment, secret detention camps & medical neglect in Israeli jails

Issawi Might Die any Moment, “Israel” will not Release Him

Al Manar

Israel has rejected appeals to release a Palestinian prisoner on a life-endangering long-term hunger strike to the West Bank, AFP quoted Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqea as saying Saturday.

Qaraqea said that Israeli officials told him on Saturday that Samer Issawi, who has intermittently refused food for more than eight months, “is in critical condition and might die at any moment.”

Issawi, 33, was first arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 26 years for militant activity in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

He was released by Israel under a prisoner swap in October 2011, but rearrested last July.

Qaraqea said that the Palestinians had requested that he be released temporarily to the West Bank.

“We proposed that they release him to Ramallah for a while and they refused,” he said, adding that “we agreed to send him to Europe for a few months to receive medical treatment and then come back again but they refused.”

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Secret Israeli Detention Camps File Reopened

Al Manar

The latest unveiling of a secret Zionist prison, which even Israeli ministers are prevented from entering, has posed different question marks on the destinies of Palestinian, Arab, and even Western abductees.

Coordinator of the “National Campaign to Return the Martyrs’ Bodies”, Salem Khalle indicated that “Israeli professor Ishai Menuchin, Head of the Public Committee for Opposing torture in Israel, had said there were secret prisons in Israel, which contain Palestinian abductees that no one knows anything about.”

“We have documents about 64 missing Palestinian citizens,” he told Al-Manar correspondent.

This urged Palestinian rights groups to request the Red Cross and international rights organizations to pressure the occupation to open these prisons, in which serious crimes might be taking place, like the case is in 1391 prison.

In parallel, Director-General of the Palestinian organization Al-Haq, Shawan Jabarin, pointed out that “Israel used this place to imprison some detainees and Lebanese abductees, and we don’t know who else is there.”

Jabarin told Al-Manar that “legally, secret prisons, and the absence of a specified location for the detainee is considered a crime.”

For its part, the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners revealed that everyone who entered prison 1391 was exposed to severe torturing.

Palestinian Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Qaraqea, told Al-Manar that “this prison is one of the investigation centers that lawyers and the International Red Cross did not know about. Detainees used to be dragged to this prison, especially during Al-Aqsa Intifada (uprising). This prison is considered a monstrous jail, in which investigation is very harsh. It was part of the terrorism applied on the Palestinian prisoner in order to extract confessions.”

From here, the story of Israeli agent Ben Zygier had reopened the file of secret prisons in the Zionist entity, especially as this entity has a number of secret jails, as well as secret graveyards for martyrs, which it could also be renting to international intelligence, according to experts.

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PHR warns of disaster in Israeli jails due to medical neglect

NAZARETH, (PIC)– Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) in the occupied Palestinian territories accused the Israeli medical system inside the prisons of abusing the Palestinian hunger striking prisoners and exercising pressures on them to stop their strike.

The human rights organization pointed out in a report issued on Friday that the prison administration violates the fundamental rights of hunger striking detainees, and refuses to allow independent physicians from outside the prison to visit and examine them.

The report also stated that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) provides the hunger strikers with an “inadequate and insufficient medical follow up.”

It suggests that the ways in which the IPS medical system dealt with and handled the cases of hunger strikers over the past year underlines the high extent to which the prison medical system is amenable to the prison system, which is in turn amenable and subordinate to Israel’s political echelons.

“Information gathered over the course of the year also raises concerns that on account of this subordination, the prison medical system in fact operates according to political and security considerations, rather than medical considerations, the former of which runs contrary to the interests of the hunger striking patient, ” the report stated.

Anat Litvin, Director of Prisoners and Detainees Department in the PHR, called for taking strict measures against the prison administration and transferring control and responsibility for the medical services inside the prisons from the IPS to a professional and public medical body.

Litvin added that as long as the IPS medical system remains under the control and management of the prison system, with its political and security considerations, it will result in greater harm to the rights of prisoners.

Meanwhile, families of Prisoners and Jerusalemite Detainees Committee and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) organized on Thursday at the Red Cross headquarters in Jerusalem the weekly sit-in, in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails with the participation of dozens of prisoners’ families, national forces, factions’ representatives and liberated prisoners.

During the sit-in, the prisoners’ families raised the captives’ photos, and chanted slogans denouncing the continuation of the detention of patient and hunger striking prisoners.

Amjad Abu Assab, Head of the Families of Prisoners and Jerusalemite Detainees Committee, condemned the silence of the Arab and Islamic countries regarding the issue of hunger strikers.

For his part, the director of the PPS in Jerusalem, Nasser Qawas, pointed out during the protest that prisoner Samer al-Issawi suffers from extremely difficult conditions at Kaplan Hospital.

Prisoners’ situation worsens in occupation jails

NABLUS, (PIC)– The liberated prisoner Wael Abdul Karim Hashash, from Balata refugee camp, warned of the worsening situation in occupation jails, saying that the situation is on the verge of explosion due to the Israeli practices.

Hashash told the PIC reporter two days after his release from Megiddo prison that the Palestinian prisoners have informed each Israeli prison that they will stand against any unfair practices against them.

The liberated prisoner said that there is an unprecedented campaign of oppression against the prisoners in order to undermine what they had achieved in the “Dignity” strike.

He stressed the captive movement’s prominent role in defense of the prisoners’ rights and demands and to expose the Israeli violations.

For his part, Dr. Atallah Abu Sabah, Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, said that the prisoners suffer catastrophic living conditions in Israeli jails, especially after the prisoner Maysara Abu Hamdiya’s death, stressing that the captive movement is in permanent and continuous clash with the Israeli prison service in protest against its repressive and medical negligence policy.

The minister congratulated the liberated prisoner Ibrahim Baroud for his release after 27 years in custody during which he was subjected to severe torture.

He denounced the re-arrest of the liberated prisoner Thaer Halahleh at dawn on Wednesday in total violation to the agreements signed between the occupation authorities and the captive movement after the Dignity strike.

The minister stressed that Thaer’s arrest came to undermine the prisoners’ will and spirits especially after achieving a number of triumphs over the jailer.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said that the IPS practices are in flagrant violations of the Palestinian prisoners rights.

The PPS issued a report that marks the Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, detailing the Israeli unfair practices including strip search, night raids, unfair sentences, administrative detention, and successive transfers between prisons.

The report pointed to the sick prisoners’ serious conditions in Israeli jails, where they have been suffering from Israeli medical negligence for long years.

The PPS stated that the Israeli authorities have trained special units to undermine the prisoners’ struggle and determination through storming their rooms at night and confiscating their personal belongings in addition to beating and terrorizing them.

The report finally pointed to the Israeli practices aimed to spread illiteracy among the Palestinian prisoners by preventing them from completing their education in custody.

Palestine: Issawi facing heart slowdown, 71 prisoners killed under torture in custody, land bulldozed & trees uprooted

issawiIssawi Facing Heart Slowdown Possible Brain Damage: Empty Stomachs Battle

Moqawama

Samer Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for more than 250 days may die anytime, reported his doctors.
After examining Issawi on Sunday, the doctors reported that his heart rate has slowed to 30 beats per minute, much lower than average, and he faces the distinct possibility of suffering permanent brain damage.

His sister, Shireen Issawi, who is also his lawyer, reported last month that the “Israeli” government tried to negotiate a deal in which her brother would be sent into exile in the Gaza Strip, but he refused the deal.

In a statement, she said, “Same will not accept to be sent into exile especially while “Israeli” is escalating its violations that target the very existence of the Palestinians in their homes and lands.”

“This is the determination that Samer carries, from the first day of his strike”, she said, “It is either freedom and liberation, or martyrdom”. Issawi’s hunger strike is the longest among the Palestinian prisoners, and among the longest ever engaged in worldwide.

He has repeatedly stated that he is willing to die for the cause of equal rights for the Palestinian people, and according to his doctors, he will likely die soon.

5 Palestinian Prisoners remain on hunger strike, the longest of which is Samer Issawi who has been on strike since August 1 2012.
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Issawi decides to boycott Israeli military courts

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The hunger striker Samer Issawi, 260 days on hunger strike, declared that he will boycott the Israeli military courts and he will refuse to appear before them, Palestinian human rights sources revealed.

Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs said that Ofer military court set the 9th of May to hold Samer’s next hearing, but the hunger striker declared his refusal to appear before this court for being “illegal and illegitimate”.

My appearance before this court means a recognition to its legitimacy and laws and this is absolutely unacceptable, the ministry quoted Samer as saying.

He pointed to the Israeli pressures to force him to accept his deportation to Gaza or outside the Palestinian territories following his release, stressing his determination to continue the strike until his release to his hometown of Jerusalem.

The ministry warned against the serious health status of the hunger striker, noting that he is at risk of sudden death at any moment.

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71 Palestinian prisoners killed under torture in custody

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– A Palestinian human rights association accused Israeli military courts of being responsible for the death of more than 70 Palestinian prisoners in occupation jails after being subjected to severe torture during investigation.

Addameer for Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association said in a statement on Tuesday, “The Israeli military courts’ decisions are responsible for the death of 71 Palestinian prisoners during investigation where they were subjected to harsh torture”.

The association clarified that these decisions have provided a legal cover to the Israeli General Intelligence’s inhuman practices against the prisoners in total violation of the international laws and the Fourth Geneva Convention that states in Article 32 that “the High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their hands.”

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Jewish settler driving a motorcycle hit Palestinian young woman in al-Khalil

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– A Palestinian young woman was injured on Tuesday after being hit by a settler’s motorbike, at the entrance to Beit Ummar village north of al-Khalil, medics said.

Mohammed Awad, Media spokesman for the Popular Committees against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar, said that a settler riding a motorcycle hit Alaa Diab Alami, 22, and fled towards Karmi Tzur settlement, set up on Palestinian lands in Beit Ummar and Halhoul.

The Palestinian young woman suffered bruises and serious leg injuries.

The Palestinian Red Crescent’s ambulance transferred the victim to the hospital, where her condition was described as moderate.

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“Israelis” Cut Back Fishing Space in Gaza’s Sea

Moqawama

“Israeli” authorities violated the fishing space agreed upon in the Cairo-brokered treaty after Operation Pillar of Cloud aggression on the Gaza Strip.

The excuse, as usual, was the claim that missiles are being launched towards the settlements near the Strip, which made thousands of Palestinian fishermen lose hope of making use of the sardine season in April.

The President of the Fishermen Union Nizar Ayyash told al-Ahed News website about the Zionist decision to cut back the fishing space from 6 miles to 3, describing this as an attempt to harm the most important fishing season in Gaza.

Moreover, Ayyash pointed out that the cut back policy that “Israel” adopts on around 4000 fishermen goes way beyond merely negative impacts, reaching around 50 thousand people.

Ayyash further stressed that this poor category of people should be allowed to provide for their livelihood in a space no lesser than 20 miles, according to the Oslo Accord between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Zionist entity.
Field data showed that since the said accord was signed, fishermen were not allowed to fish beyond 10 miles, because of the “Israel’s” mentality.

Abu Khaled, a fisherman in his thirties, questioned, “How are we supposed to cope after today?”

“I couldn’t catch more than a kilo of fish, although I sailed for three hours in the new fishing space,” emphasizing, “The current season requires protection from “Israeli” warships that do not waver to target Palestinian boats by firing on them and confiscating them.”

Abu Mohammad, however, was none the better. He also worries on how to provide for his family, calling on the international community to save the lives of the besieged strip.

B’Tselem, the “Israeli” Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories accentuated that, ever since the Pillar of Cloud military operation in November 2012, around 40 fishermen were arrested by “Israeli” navy and 13 Palestinian boats confiscated.

According to the Center, fishermen are required to pay 500 shekels (150 USD) to move their boats from Ashdod port to Gaza.

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IOF raids southern Gaza to bulldoze land

KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) escorted huge bulldozers into areas to the east of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday morning.

Local sources told the PIC reporter that IOF soldiers in eight armored vehicles, mostly bulldozers, advanced from Abu Reida gate into an area only 150 meters east of Khuza’a town.

They said that the soldiers bulldozed land in the vicinity of the town, noting that reconnaissance planes were flying over the area.

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IOF soldiers chop down 350 trees south of Al-Khalil

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) chopped down around 350 almond and olive trees near Daheriya town, south of Al-Khalil, on Tuesday morning.

Director of public relations in Daheriya municipality Mohammed Raba said that the soldiers chopped down 100 olive trees and 250 almond trees in Midemana area in Daheriya.

He said that the soldiers after destroying the trees, owned by two brothers in the village, sprayed poisonous chemicals on them. He said that the two brothers were not notified beforehand of the act.

For Samer Issawi: Tribute to a Jerusalem Son

issawiby Susan Abulhawa, source

Apartheid’s outlaw
Has crooked white teeth
An Adam’s Apple and an angled jaw

A beautiful face
With a knowing smile, gentle eyes
And masculine grace

O’ Native son, my brother

Your eyes have sunk in darkness’ pain
Sleepless nights crawl on your skin
And daylight climbs the links of your rusty prison chain

Religion made a mistake
So your body shrinks
And shadows trample your ribs
While a thousand senators quake

In your hallowed belly, Jerusalem screams
Chokes on your mother’s tears
And shakes these tired dreams

From your body’s excavation of death
The ruin of nations is carved in your palm
And a sorrowful flag holds its breath

O’ Native son, my brother

You carry your broken frame
Through the decay of health
And death hangs its head in shame

You are the prince
Where the Jasmine sings
The bougainvillea prance
And the tyrants wince

Palestine rises on the days
They siphoned from your vein
As if crutches to steady her gait
For, a gun can but power feign

O’ Native son, my brother

Fly over this country your wish
And pour the Adan from your wings
Let the church bells chime from your smile
And the walls fall by your kiss

Our tears will rain and the wadis flood
Until another thousand years
Have sunk in Jerusalem’s mud

We will harvest the olives with your name
And your heart forever stake our claim

Palestine: Letter from Samer Issawi, 6 vehicles burned & more children arrested

Letter from Samer Issawi: Freedom or martyrdom

source

This letter from prisoner Samer al-Issawi, on hunger strike for 213 consecutive days, arrived through his lawyer Mahmoud Abu Sneineh, who succeeded, on Wednesday, February 20, 2013, to visit him in Ramlah prison hospital, in spite of the restrictions that were recently implemented to prevent lawyers from visiting the hero prisoner. (Copied and translated from the Arabic origin from Shirin Issawi’s wall on Facebook).

In the name of God the Merciful

Greetings to all the Palestinian people and the freedom loving people of the world, those who take part in the battle for the freedom of the prisoners, all the prisoners, and first of all the heroic sick prisoners in the Ramlah Prison hospital. These heroes who have sacrificed their bodies and long years to Palestine and the Palestinian people deserve from us that we struggle for their liberation.

Today the Palestinian people proved to the occupation, despite the difficult conditions they go through, that the national cause and the prisoners’ issue are of high priority for every Palestinian. The economic situation and unemployment do not distract the Palestinian people from their prisoners, because they are people of bravery who took upon themselves to defend the Arab and Islamic nation and its holy sites. It saddens me so much that I am not with you to share with you this great battle for supporting the prisoners. But I decided to escalate my strike by avoiding drinking water in order to join this movement and the great battle that you wage on the ground.

I send a warm greeting for all of you who stay in the protest tents everywhere, especially those who are on hunger strike. I send greetings to the participants at the Nazareth tent, first of them Father Atallah Hanna, and to all the people involved in the sit-ins and marches in support of the prisoners.

I send greetings to the heroes who gathered yesterday in front of the court and broke all standards, restrictions and concepts of the occupation (the division between Western Jerusalem and Eastern Jerusalem). They proved to the occupation that AlQuds is one, it is our city, and their pure feet wandered the alleys that were walked by our forefathers before this occupation came, kill them and expels the rest of them.

I greet you, I’m proud of you and I draw the power to resist and my morale from you and your struggle. Yesterday, when I saw you in front of the courthouse, I became free and my jailer became the prisoner. I noticed the humiliation on the guards’ faces when they saw you clinging to your land despite the Judaization.

By God, I kiss those feet that liberated yesterday part of the lands of our holy city and raised the Palestinian flag high. Kissing these pure feet is an honor for me. You are Blessed, Jerusalem, with your heroic sons, the protectors of the Holy Land, the Church of the Resurrection and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. We will meet soon, God willing, O heroes of Palestine and the free people of the world.

I send my greetings to the free people of the world everywhere, especially in our sister Egypt, to the fans of Zamalek group and Al-Jazeera Sports commentator. I send my greetings and salute to every person. And to Shahed and Maleka.

Concerning my health, I was transferred on Thursday to some hospital, I do not remember its name, after suffering a sharp drop in blood pressure and heart beat where the pressure was 74/40 and pulse 35 beats per minute. I lost consciousness.

I continue my strike. Either Freedom or Martyrdom.

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Samer Issawi sentenced to 8 months in jail

NAZARETH, (PIC)– Shirin Issawi, the hunger striker Samer Issawi’s sister, confirmed that Samer’s hunger strike continues until freedom or martyrdom.

The Israeli Magistrate court has ruled to release Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi on 6 March 2013, after having served 8 months in prison since his re-arrest on July 7 last year, Shirin told Qus press.

Issawi’s case still faces Ofer military court, where “efforts are continuing to drop the charges against Samer in Ofer as he was charged of violating the terms of the exchange deal,” she explained.

In case the charges were dropped against the prisoner Samer in Ofer court, he will be released on March 6, she noted.

Samer Issawi has been on hunger strike for 214 consecutive days protesting against his administrative detention.

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Settlers burn 6 vehicles in Nablus

NABLUS, (PIC)– Israeli settlers continued their attacks in different areas of the West Bank, where they attacked, after midnight, Palestinian houses and vehicles in the village of Kasra south of the city of Nablus, causing panic among the citizens.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official in charge of settlements file in the northern part of the West Bank, confirmed that dozens of settlers from Yash Codich settlement adjacent to the village attacked the village amid intensive shooting, where they set fire to six vehicles owned by the villagers, leading to the outbreak of clashes between the two sides.

The village’s residents have confronted the settlers and forced them to leave the village, before the coming of a large force of the occupation army to the village, Daghlas explained.

Clashes broke out on Wednesday in the village between the citizens and the occupation forces, injuring eight civilians, while the Israeli army claimed that two soldiers were injured.

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IOF arrests 19 Palestinian children in two weeks

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) arrested during the first half of February at least 19 Palestinian children, and injured other dozens, a Palestinian report revealed.

The report, issued by the “Child Information Department” in Ramallah, confirmed on Wednesday that the occupation forces continued to commit more war crimes against Palestinian children, where 19 children were arrested in different Palestinian districts, and dozens were injured due to the Israeli forces and settlers’ attacks against them during the first half of February.

The report pointed out that the children were arrested during Israeli raids and incursions into Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank, where they were transferred to Israeli detention and interrogation centers.

It also noted that dozens of Palestinian children were injured in the West Bank, by Israeli soldiers and settlers’ bullets due to the use of excessive force to suppress peaceful demonstrations, stressing that two Palestinian children were shot near the border fence east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.

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70 protesters injured by IOF bullets in Ofer confrontations

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– More than 70 Palestinians were injured on Thursday in violent confrontations with the occupation soldiers outside the Ofer detention center south of occupied Ramallah.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said in a statement that at least one person has been injured with live ammunition, and 26 injuries with rubber-coated metal bullets, while the rest of the injuries were due to tear gas.

Students from Birzeit University, the University of Jerusalem, and secondary schools have participated in marches to Ofer prison, where clashes have erupted.

The Israeli occupation has declared the area since early morning a closed military zone, where the occupation soldiers were deployed within a 1-square-kilometre area and seized the rooftops of some houses around the prison.

The Israeli soldiers used a bulldozer to open roads closed by demonstrators in addition to the use of water cannons using wastewater against the protestors.

Israeli officers, border guards, and Israeli police were attended in front of the Ofer prison since the early hours to suppress the demonstrators and prevent them from having access to the prison gate.

The leader of the Islamic bloc in Birzeit Imran Mazloum told PIC reporter that hundreds of people, including students from the University of Birzeit, have participated in a massive march to the Ofer prison west of Ramallah in support of the prisoners on hunger strike, where the IOF have repressed them with tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets, leading to several cases of suffocation and the outbreak of violent clashes in the region.

The Popular Committee Against the Wall has called for holding the Friday prayers outside the Ofer prison in solidarity with the prisoners on hunger strike.

Mazloum said that Birzeit student blocs have organized events in support of prisoners in front of Ofer prison gate, since few days ago, where many of them were injured.

Different areas in the West Bank have been witnessed clashes and confrontations at the entrances to towns and camps.

Are they just waiting for Samer Issawi to die?

A Note to AP and Amnesty International

by ALISON WEIR, source

by ALISON WEIR

Samer Issawi has lived for 33 years, 1 month, and 27 days. I hope he lives another day.

He has been on a hunger strike now for six and a half months. Gandhis’ longest hunger strike was 21 days.

The IRA’s Bobby Sands and nine other Irish hunger strikers died in 1981 after strikes lasting from 46 to 73 days.

Issawi’s internal organs are starting to shut down, he can no longer walk, he is reportedly suffering loss of vision and vomiting blood, it is difficult for him talk, and he is increasingly near death. He has lost over half his body weight.

One of the main ideas behind such nonviolent resistance is that world awareness will bring pressure on behalf of the sufferer.

Yet, U.S. news outlets are not covering Issawi’s hunger strike. It appears that the Associated Press has not run a single news story on Issawi’s strike and refuses to answer queries on the subject.

AP’s lack of reporting on the situation is even more inexplicable given that there has been an international campaign on Issawi’s behalf.

There have been banner drops in Washington, D.C, Chicago, Cleveland, Austin, and other parts of the world; demonstrations and vigils in numerous cities; and Issawi’s plight has made it onto Twitter’s world-trending list at least four times this month.

The alleged “crime” for which Issawi is being imprisoned and may die – there has been no trial – is for having allegedly traveled outside Jerusalem. Issawi is one of the Palestinian prisoners released in a prisoner exchange in 2011, and such movement, Israel says, violated the terms of that release. (It is unclear whether Israel has formally charged Issawi.)

However, Issawi supporters point out that Issawi’s “travel” was to an area near Hizma, and Israel does not appear to dispute this, bringing into question Israel’s claimed reason for incarcerating him: Hizma is withinJerusalem’s municipal borders.

Israeli is holding Issawi under “administrative detention,” a system by which Israel holds Palestinian men, women, and even children for as long as the Israeli government wishes without trials or charges; sometimes for decades. Since 2000 Israel has reportedly issued 20,000 such detention orders.

In response to Issawi’s hunger strike, Israel has begun punishing his family. Israel arrested his sister for a period and reportedly cut off water to her house. In early July the Israeli army demolished his brother’s home.

It is difficult to think that if an Israeli soldier were held by Palestinians that the Associated Press would not run a single story about it. (AP ran many dozens of stories on Israeli tank gunner Gilad Shalit when he was held in Gaza.)

It is even more difficult to imagine that if an Israeli held by Palestinians (none are) had been on a hunger strike – let alone one that had lasted months and put him near death – the person would not have been the subject of a single AP report.

Moreover, Issawi is just one of a multitude of Palestinian hunger strikers, almost all ignored by U.S. media. Another, Ayman Sharawna, whose fast was interrupted for a short period, has been on a strike that, in total, is even longer that Issawi’s.

Amnesty International has also been inexplicably negligent.

I have just been informed that Amnesty International plans to issue an announcement about Issawi today. If it does so, this will be its first one on Issawi. In fact, during a hunger strike that lasted over six months, queries to Amnesty and searches of both the American and British websites, have turned up only one mention of him – in the last paragraph of an alert about other prisoners posted on the British site. It is not on the U.S. site.

Phone calls and emails over the past week to Amnesty’s Washington DC, New York, and London offices failed to elicit any information on Issawi or Amnesty’s decision not to alert the public to his situation. (Finally, unable to obtain a response from Amnesty, a few days ago I posted their lack of coverage on Facebook.)

While pro-Israel groups constantly attack Amnesty for insufficiently taking the Israeli line, in reality Amnesty’s record on the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan is often significantly at odds with the organization’s work on behalf of prisoners and human rights in other areas.

There have been analyses and objections to Amnesty actions that appeared to, in the words of one article, “shill for Mideast Wars.” Its executive director Suzanne Nossel spoke in favor of what she termed“hard force,” e.g. wars.

Nossel emphasized that at the top of Amnesty’s list was “defense of Israel,” despite Israel’s long list of violent aggressionethnic cleansing, and human rights violations. Nossel blasted the UN report on Gaza’s2008-9 massacre in Gaza as “not supported by facts,” despite massive evidence both in that report and and many others that its statements about Israel were quite accurate, if not slightly tilted toward Israel.

A lengthy article in CounterPunch examined Amnesty’s emphasis (and inaccurate coverage) on the Pussy Riot issue, and compared this to Amnesty’s lack of coverage on the incarceration of whistle blower Julian Assange and on other significant cases.

A 1988 analysis on human rights organizations’ work on Israel-Palestine found a number of shortcomings in Amnesty’s work, and in January 2012 Dutch-English writer Paul de Rooij complained of Amnesty’s “double standards” on Palestinian human rights.

In an email exchange with Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, de Rooij wrote that Amnesty’s “unwillingness to publish lists” of Palestinian Prisoners of Conscience and the extreme rarity of applying this designation to Palestinian prisoners “indicate that Palestinians can’t expect much from Amnesty International.”

De Rooij continued: “The brutal treatment and dispossession of Palestinians has been going on for decades; the situation is chronic and it has been systematic. But check for yourself in Amnesty’s reports or press releases: when was the last time that AI unambiguously indicated that Israeli actions amounted to crimes against humanity?”

De Rooij answered his own question: “You can count such instances with less than half the fingers on your hand.”

Susanne Nossel left Amnesty in January of this year and her replacement has not yet been chosen, so it is possible that its actions will change.

In the meantime, Samer Issawi’s life seems to be hanging by a thread.

Since Americans give Israel over $8 million per day, our tax money is helping to fund Israel’s actions. Those who wish to prevent at least one tragic death may wish to make their opinion known to the U.S. State Department (202-663-1848) and Associated Press (212.621.1500).

The name is also sometimes given as Samer Al-Issawi or Al-Eesawy. 

Palestine: 8-year-old child run over, home razed & hunger striker Issawi in critical condition

Jewish settler runs over 8-year-old child

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– A Jewish settler ran over an 8-year-old Palestinian child near the Ibrahimi mosque in Al-Khalil and sped away.

Nasser Qabaja, the Palestinian Red Crescent’s director of ambulance and emergency, told Quds Press that Baha’a Al-Fakhouri, 8, was hit by a Jewish settler in a speeding car in the Ibrahimi yard affiliated with the Ibrahimi mosque on Monday.

He said that Palestinian ambulance crews carried the child to hospital where his injuries were described as minor. He added that the child would remain under medical observation.

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IOA plans confiscation of more Jerusalem land

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) are planning the confiscation of more Jerusalemite land to build a new road serving Jewish settlers.

The local committee for construction and planning announced on Tuesday that a meeting would be held on Wednesday to discuss the expropriation of land in Beit Hanina suburb, north of occupied Jerusalem.

The committee said that the land would be used to construct a new road to serve settlers in Ramat Shlomo settlement, which is planning to build 1500 new housing units.

The Israeli-controlled municipality of Jerusalem has already started building a section of that road called 21 with the help of Moriah Jerusalem Development Company in Shufat suburb, which is adjacent to Beit Hanina suburb.

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IOF displace family in Idna town after razing their home

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) demolished on Monday afternoon a Palestinian house and bulldozed an agricultural piece of land in Idna town west of Al-Khalil without prior notice.

Mohamed Tamizi, the homeowner, said his house was built with funding from the international Tadamun (solidarity) society and now he and his family have no other place to live in.

He added that the Israeli bulldozers also destroyed his cultivated lands near the house, depriving him of his only source of livelihood.

The Palestinian houses and agricultural lands near the segregation wall in Idna town are continually exposed to destruction.

In a separate incident, the IOF kidnapped ex-detainee Mohamed Adnan Atmiza, 27, from his home in Idna town.

Amiza was an ex-detainee in a Palestinian authority jail and spent more than 20 months in Israeli jails because of his affiliation with the Hamas Movement.

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203 Days (and on) on Hunger Strike in “Israeli” Jails, Issawi in Critical Condition

Moqawama

After 203 days spent on hunger strike, Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi is in “critical condition”.Meanwhile, activists feared that “Issawi might not survive his protest against “Israel’s” abusive prison system.”

Issawi is one of thousands of Palestinian prisoners who have gone on hunger strikes in the past year to denounce “Israel’s” policy of administrative detention and poor life conditions in prisons.

The 33-year old has been refusing food since July 2012, making it one of the longest hunger strikes in the world.

Issawi stopped drinking water and taking vitamins earlier this month, and is refusing medical care. His weight dropped to less than 47 kilograms and he is confined to a wheelchair, suffering from loss of vision, fainting and vomiting blood.

“His heart could stop at any moment,” said Daleen Elshaer, a coordinator for the Free Samer Issawi Campaign.

Elshaer further warned that Issawi’s lawyer and human rights activists were denied accessed to Issawi until Saturday during his most recent hospitalization outside of the infamous Ramlah prison.

Issawi was first arrested in 2002 and sentenced to thirty years in prison over weapons possession and forming a military group. He was released in an October 2011 prisoner swap agreement between the Zionist entity and in which 1,027 mostly-Palestinians were freed in exchange for an “Israeli” soldier captured by the Palestinian resistance in 2006.

He was rearrested on 7 July 2012 and accused of violating the terms of his release by leaving al-Quds. “Israeli” prosecutors are seeking to cancel his amnesty and detain him for 20 years, the remainder of his previous sentence, despite there being no other charges against him.

Another Palestinian hunger striker, Jaafar Ezzedine, recently threatened to follow in Issawi’s footsteps and refuse water unless “Israel” meets his demands, according to the Palestine News Network.

According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 4,743 Palestinians were held in “Israeli” prisons as of January, including 178 in administrative detention.

While the campaign to free Issawi has tried to attract broader international attention, Elshaer said they are too often faced with a wall of silence.

“Samer is non-violently resisting a violent occupation, but nobody is willing to talk about him because he is Palestinian,” she said. “Would it take his death for people to cover his story?”

Elshaer added that Issawi’s family has been repeatedly harassed by Israeli forces. Water access was cut to his sister’s house, and his brother’s home was reportedly demolished by the “Israeli” army in early January.

But while Issawi’s health is a big cause for concern for his supporters, they keep faith in him and his cause.

“God is protecting him because he is innocent,” Elshaer asserted.

Meanwhile, Freed detainee Akram Rekhawi stated his 100 day hunger strike was the hardest stage of his nine-year prison sentence.

“I saw death many times a day and it was very painful and “Israeli” doctors treated me very badly,” Rekhawi, 39 said.

Rekhawi, who was released on Thursday, said “Israeli” prison doctors deliberately withheld treatment until prisoners were beyond help.”Yes, they’re offering us medical treatment, but only after they make sure the disease has spread all through our bodies and that there is no hope in treating us.”

A father of eight, Rekhawi suffers from diabetes, asthma and osteoporosis and was held in Ramle prison clinic since his detention in 2004.

Rekhawi spent six years in a cell with Ashraf Abu Threa, who was martyred in January two months after his release from “Israeli” jail. The Palestinian Prisoners Society said “Israeli” authorities were responsible for Abu Threa’s death after neglecting his serious health conditions during his detention.

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“I was determined to live with dignity,” says freed hunger striker Akram Rikhawi (click to read)

Will Samer Issawi be the next victim of medical neglect by the Israeli Prison Service?

by Shahd Abusalama, EI

Reading “With My Own Eyes” by the Israeli lawyer Felicia Langer brought painful scenes to my mind, but my faith in humanity grew deeper. While the Zionists might proclaim “woe to the vanquished,” there were Jewish people in Palestine, such as Langer, who, more profoundly, recognized it was “woe to the victor.” Langer was one who fought bravely against the unjust Israeli system throughout her 23-year career. She defended my father Ismael Abusalama in Israeli courts. He has always spoken about her with admiration and respect for her humanity and firmness.
In her book, she wrote that she met my father on April 6, 1972 in Kafaryouna, an Israeli interrogation center. “Ismael Abusalama, a 19-year-old man who lives in Jabalia Refugee Camp, is a refugee originally from Beit-Jerja.” She mentioned Dad’s cousin who was killed by the Israeli occupation forces after the Six-Day War in 1967. Langer quoted my father’s words, “I saw how children were being brutally shot dead in the Camp’s streets by the Israeli border guards. I witnessed the murder of a little girl who was just leaving her school when an Israeli soldier from the border guards shot her dead. They raid the camp with their thick batons beating up every human. They break into the houses inhabited by women without knocking at their doors. They mix the flour with oil during their aggressive inspections deliberately and without any necessity.”

On page 352, she recorded a painful story of my father’s that she witnessed. While reading it, my heart ached to imagine my father in such brutal conditions. She wrote, “After his arrest in Jabalia Camp on January 1, 1972, they dragged him to the Gaza police center while beating him with batons all the way. They showered him with extremely cold water in winter while soldiers continued to attack him with batons everywhere, and punched him very violently to the extent that he lost his sense of hearing. This continued for 10 days.” She quoted my father saying, “They threatened me with being expelled to Amman and assassinating me there if I didn’t say what they wanted to hear.”

I have no doubt that she tried hard to expose the reality and prove my father and other detainees innocent, but Israel’s unjust judicial system was perhaps stronger than her then. Her dedicated investigations and defense of the truth didn’t stop Israel from sentencing my father to seven life sentences and 35 years! I appreciate her book, which exposes the injustices of the Israeli occupation and the rotten justice system in Israel. She has always repeated that the aggressor can never win. And I have faith that Israel will never win and Palestine shall be free.

Surprisingly, I only learned this story from her book and haven’t heard it from Dad. When I read that story about him losing his sense of hearing, I asked him about it and he confirmed and continued, “but I was never sent to hospital.”

“Detainees suffer intensively from medical neglect,” he said. “Small health problems can become critical with constant negligence. I thankfully survived, but many others didn’t and were left with permanent disabilities or health problems that led in some cases to their death.”

He stopped for a moment and continued, “Actually, such cases, maybe death isn’t the appropriate word. Murder sounds better.”

Medical neglect is one of the major brutal policies the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) practices intentionally against Palestinian political prisoners which Langer aimed to highlight in her book.

“IPS deliberately aims to harm Palestinian detainees’ physical and mental health in any possible way,” my father repeatedly says and many released prisoners have agreed.  Because of this, access to proper medical care has been always on the top of detainees’ demands whenever they go on mass hunger strikes.

Akram Rikhawi, whose 102-day hunger strike ended July 22, 2012 , has chosen to shoulder the responsibility for hundreds of disabled and ill political prisoners who grieve daily behind Israel’s bars and suffer its medical neglect. Since his first day of detention in 2004, he was held in Ramleh prison hospital, described by him and many prisoners as “a slaughterhouse, not a hospital, with jailers wearing doctors’ uniforms.”

Akram ended his hunger strike in exchange for an agreement by Israel for his early release. As part of the agreement, Akram was supposed to be released on January 25, 2013. But it’s been more than a week since that date passed, yet we have heard nothing regarding his release. This is more evidence that Israel never keeps any promises or agreements.

Ramleh stands as a nightmare for many detainees because of the inhumane procedures for them to receive a medical check, such as the long hours of waiting, being shackled from hands to feet, being aggressively treated during transfer from jail to hospital, and being treated as inferior by the racist doctors there. Many former detainees I interviewed repeatedly described this procedure as “torment.” One said, “Only when pain becomes intolerable will many prisoners call the IPS to allow them a visit to Ramleh Hospital Prison. They fear the humiliation and torture once their call is met after a long wait.”

As the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer recently reported, “Since 1967, over 200 prisoners have died in captivity, fifty-one of them from medical negligence. Alarmingly, there is a recent trend of prisoners who have died shortly after they are released from medical complications that went untreated during their detention.”

On January 22nd,  I came home from my last exam of the semester very happy and relieved that I could finally sleep without worrying about loads of studies. I put myself in bed and decided to check my Facebook before I closed my eyes. I saw a video shared by my friend Loai Odeh that turned my happiness into sadness and my relief into distress. My desire to sleep escaped me.

The video’s Arabic title read, “The last words the martyr Ashraf Abu Dhra’ uttered before he fell in a coma.” I had no idea who Ashraf was then. A young man in weak physical shape lay on a hospital bed in the video. While struggling to make his voice as loud and clear as possible, he said, “When I got sick, they only prescribed me paradicamol and released me. When I went to the hospital the medics discovered that I have a severe inflammation. Thank God. My faith eases everything.”

Then I Googled his name and the ambiguity behind the pronouns he used became no longer ambiguous and learned that Ashraf, a 29-year-old from Hebron, was released recently after a detention of six and a half years in Ramleh prison hospital. Only then did I realize that the pronoun “they” refers to the IPS.

Ashraf was released on November 15, 2012. He spent only ten days outside Ramleh prison hospital at home, surrounded by his beloved family. But those ten days were an extension of the pain he suffered during his imprisonment. Then he fell in a coma until his death on January 21, 2013, which could have been avoided if he had access to better medical care. Israel must be held responsible for the murder of Ashraf.

As Addameer added in their report:

Ashraf had a long history of medical problems that predate his arrest; he suffered from muscular dystrophy and as a result became wheelchair bound in 2008 during his imprisonment. During his detention he contracted several illnesses including lung failure, immunodeficiency and a brain virus that eventually lead to his death.

Due to the frequent denial of medical treatment by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), Ashraf suffered a slow and painful death that was exasperated by neglect and the prison service’s refusal to provide court-ordered treatment. In 2008, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) submitted a request to the Israeli district court for Ashraf to receive physical therapy. Although the court granted Ashraf this request, the ruling was ignored by the Ramleh prison hospital, who refused treatment claiming that it was unnecessary. Ashraf was held in captivity despite his failing health for the entirety of his sentence, rarely seeing an independent doctor.

Ashraf’s lack of proper medical treatment in his six and a half years violates several international human rights laws, specifically article 56, 91 and 92 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that obliges the occupying authority to provide “adequate treatment” for each detainee and medical care “not inferior than the care provided to the general population.”

Learning about the murder of Ashraf Abu Dhra’ made my worry over Samer Issawi double. Samer’s health is rapidly deteriorating due to his historic and heroic refusal of food which has continued 194 days in protest of his re-arrest for no charge or trial. His hunger is gradually taking over his body, but as he said earlier, “my determination will never weaken.”

He started his battle with a promise that he would only retreat from it as a martyr. Samer has tasted the bitterness of imprisonment for 12 years before. But once he was re-arrested in July 2012, with no charge or trial, he decided to rebel to send a message to his captors that they couldn’t decide his destiny. He doesn’t do this from love for death. He loves life, but in the form he has always longed to have, a life of freedom and dignity.

Serious actions are needed as Samer stands at the edge of death. He suffers from severe pain all over his body, especially in his abdomen and kidney. He has double vision, dizziness, and fractures in his rib cage from a brutal attack by Israeli soldiers while he was handcuffed to his wheelchair at a court hearing. This injury has caused severe and persistent pains that leave him sleepless day and night.

We shouldn’t sit idly and watch Samer slowly die. We don’t want to count more Palestinian detainee as martyrs. If Samer dies, it will be a glory for him, but a shame for us. Our silence allows Israel to cross all red lines. Save Samer from being the next victim of medical neglect after Ashraf Abu Dhra’. Act now to rescue the lives of Samer and all hunger strikers.

The ‘nine forgotten’ in Saudi jails

(File photo)

As-safir Daily, Moqawama

In June 1996, a dreadful blast in the Saudi city of Khobar demolished residential buildings, killed 19 Americans, and wounded nearly 350 persons. But also, it carted off 17 years of the lives of nine Saudis, accused of planning and executing the explosion and possessing weapons relevant to the blast.

Ever since and hitherto, these nine are still behind bars, yet without trials or legal rights allowing them to take note of their charges and defend themselves. They were abused and tortured. As they are still locked up, their relatives called them “the forgotten.”

Abdullah al-Jarrash, father of two and a young man who worked as an instructor, is one of them. His little girl was just a few-month-old toddler when police cordoned off the school where he worked in 1996 and led him to an unknown place. “We hadn’t known anything about him for two and a half years, even though we reviewed every police and security department,” his wife told As-safir newspaper.

With a lump in her throat, she goes down in the annals of time, relating the history of their engagement and marriage.

“We got engaged; we got married, and had our first son when he was still a college student. After he graduated, he worked in a faraway school. I seldom saw him. We then had our second child. This was when he got transferred to work in Dammam. He spent few months at home before they took him…we didn’t live much together,” she said.

On his arrest, she said: “He was arrested on Khobar’s explosion background. But the charges are null and void. He is still untried until today. We call for his immediate release, so that he returns to his home and children.”

Many years afterwards, Abdullah al-Jarrash was transferred to Dammam prison. One-hour monthly visits were allowed, and so was a 15-minute phone call every two weeks. Just two years ago, Abdullah was entitled to a phone call weekly, and to privacy with his wife, who brought to the world their third child, seven years after his detention.

“It was difficult for me to live without him being around. I had tough times of which only God knows. The older our children grew, the more their needs were. I wouldn’t have been able to carry on had it not been for my and his family. But I’ve been patient, waiting for his release,” his wife said.

His eldest son, who lived only few months with his father, got married. And so did his daughter. “I wished his father could be there. It was really hard for me and for the children to celebrate this occasion without him,” Um Mortada said. “He is always among us, through the small and big things in our life. We hope to have him back among us in the nearest time possible,” she corroborated.

Mortada, his son who took charge of the family at a young age, called for the immediate release of his father and of all the detainees on top of whom religious men. “People took to the streets to demand their release. The mobilization will go on until this case is solved,” he stressed.

All “nine forgotten” share the stiff conditions of detention, torture, and injustice, despite their different circumstances.

Fatima Youssof al-Suleiman, wife of detained Fadil Saeed Alawi now serving his 18th year in jail, told As-safir that her husband has been behind bars without trial or charges pressed against him.

Fatima chose to marry Fadel while he was imprisoned, almost six years ago. “I married him because he is committed to his cause. He has always been lovable in our town and he was a social activist,” she said.

Fatima participated in the protests organized by the relatives of the “nine forgotten” in front of the police departments. She hoisted banners reading “It is my right to know the fate of my husband.” But she was arrested subsequently for one day and she undertook not to do this again as a condition to her release.

Fadel Alawi stayed in Riyadh’s prison for nine years. He is now in Dammam’s jail.

Fatima hoped her husband would be soon released and given his rights. She confirmed that there would be no reneging on the release demand, which sparked a new era of mobilizations in the eastern region of KSA since February 2011, when people took to the streets and many were killed by the life bullet used by the police. Fatima’s niece was amongst the slain protesters.

The case of the “nine forgotten” is a major concern for the watchdog Center of Justice for Human Rights. Ahmed Moshaikhes from the Center explained that the nine were arrested among a big group on alleged charges of Khobar’s explosion. “Charges vary from planning and executing the explosion and weapons’ possession. Nonetheless, they have been in jail since 1996 without trial. Many were released, but the nine forgotten are still kept,” he said.

Moshaikhes said that the case was laid before officials and princes who were called to help release the innocent among them and those who served their sentences, and try them if they were guilty. “But this never happened,” he pointed out.

He indicated that during a visit to the former prince of the eastern region, Mohammad Bin Fahd, he broached this case with him. “He told me that they were sentenced to death but that their penalty was commuted. He did not clarify the punishment though,” he said.

As to their legal status, Moshaikhes revealed that the “nine forgotten” were not even allowed to appoint an attorney. “They were arrested without clarifying the charges. Their relatives kept asking for long about the reasons of their detention but the cause was not uncovered until a few years later,” he said.

Moshaikhes maintained that the case of the “nine forgotten” is the key spark for the political mobilization witnessed in east the country since two years. “The foremost headline is the demand to release them, noting that their liberation will help mitigate the sharp tension especially that tens of thousands are taking to the streets to sympathize with them and their families,” he concluded.

Prisoners’ Intifada shames Palestine’s leaders

prisoners

by Ramzy Baroud, source

If Palestinian leaders only knew how extraneous their endless rounds of “unity” talks have become, they might cease enthusiastic declarations to world media about their meetings. At this point, few Palestinians are left with hope that their “leadership” has their best interests in mind. Factional interests reign supreme and personal agendas continue to define Palestine’s political landscape.

Fatah and Hamas are the two major Palestinian political factions. Despite Hamas’ election victory in 2006, Fatah has the upper hand. Both parties continue to play the numbers game, flexing their muscles in frivolous rallies where Palestinian flags are overshadowed with green and yellow banners, the symbols of Hamas and Fatah respectively.

Historically, there has been a leadership deficit in Palestine and it is not because Palestinians are incapable of producing upright men and women capable of guiding the decades-long resistance towards astounding victory against Israel’s military occupation and apartheid. This is because for a Palestinian leadership to be acknowledged by regional and international players, it has to excel in the art of “compromise”. These carefully molded leaders often cater to the interests of their Arab and Western benefactors, at the expense of their own people. Not a single popular faction has resolutely escaped this.

This reality has permeated Palestinian politics for decades. However, in the last two decades the distance between the Palestinian leadership and the people has grown by a once unimaginable distance, to the point where some Palestinians have become a jailor, a peddling politician or even a security coordinator working hand in hand with Israel. Perks of the 1994 Oslo Accord have over the years created a Palestinian elite, whose interests and that of the Israeli occupation overlap beyond recognition of where the first starts and the other ends.

While Hamas remained largely immune from the Oslo disease – Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and his men enjoy its numerous political and economic perks – it too is becoming enthralled by the prospects of regional acceptance and international validation. Its strictly factional agenda and closeness to some corrupt Arab countries raise more than question marks and there is the prospect of it heading in the same direction as Fatah leaders did over two decades ago.

The unity charade continues. After a period of ambiguity, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian Authority leader Abbas reportedly held meetings in Cairo to “expedite” a reconciliation. Considering that progress is judged as keeping the status quo between the two main factions, the word “expedite” is likely to mean and change very little on the ground.

If one was to judge by rhetoric and rival claims, the chasm continues to grow, despite the supposedly sober fact that earlier this month, on January 4 Hamas allowed Fatah to celebrate the anniversary of its birth in Gaza, while the latter did the same in the West Bank. Supporters of both parties brazenly used their parades – which took place under the watchful eyes of Israeli drones – to exhibit their strengths. This was not in relations to the Israeli military occupation, but to their own pitiful factional propaganda.

Oddly enough, if the calculations of Palestinian factions are accurate regarding the attendees of their rallies, the population of Gaza may have suddenly morphed to exceed 4 million, a remarkable jump from the 1.6 million of a few weeks ago. This is the actual number of the Gaza population per United Nations statistics.

This miserable legacy of Palestinian factionalism can be seen against the backdrop of a slowly brewing movement in Israeli jails. Palestinian political prisoners continue to place their faith in their own ability to endure hunger, gaining international solidarity with their cause. Samer Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who as of January 10 completed 168 days of a hunger strike in protest of his unlawful detention by Israel, is hardly a unique phenomenon. He is an expression of the very much present but snubbed Palestinian collective, whose fate doesn’t fall into the political agenda of any faction.

Issawi is one of seven brothers, six of whom spent time in Israeli prisons for their political beliefs. One of the brothers, Fadi, was killed by Israeli soldiers in 1994, a few days after celebrating his 16th birthday. Even their sister, Shireen, was arrested by Israeli soldiers during a hearing concerning her brother Samer on December 18. On that day, “Samer was publicly beaten in the Jerusalem Magistrates Court after he tried to greet his family,” reported the Palestine Monitor. “He was dragged from his wheelchair and carried away, repeatedly crying out as he was hit on his chest by the guards around him.”

The Issawi family and the entire neighborhood of Issawiya in East Jerusalem is now a target for the Israeli army and police. The aim is to break the will of a single man who at present is incapable of standing on his own feet. It may be legendary, but Samer Issawi’s will of steel is not an alien notion for Palestinians. According to the Adameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, over 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by the Israeli military and police since its occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967.

“Considering the fact that the majority of those detained are male, the number of Palestinians detained forms approximately 40% of the total male Palestinian population in the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories],” the organization wrote in a June 2012 fact-sheet. But Palestinian resistance is yet to be quelled.

“It is estimated that around 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested by Israel since 1967. They include young girls and the elderly; some … were the mothers of male long-term prisoners,” wrote Nabil Sahli in January in the Middle East Monitor. The author has also called for an internationalization of the prisoners issue.

In a special session held on January 6 to discuss the plight of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, the Arab League echoed similar demands. In a statement it called for the treatment of detainees as “prisoners of war” and called for active international efforts to secure their release.

However, serious efforts on the issue seem absent despite the repeated cries for attention by Palestinian prisoners. On April 17, 2012, at least 1,200 prisoners participated in a hunger strike to alert the world of their plight and maltreatment in Israeli jails. Despite the fact that the collective strike ended on May 14, Palestinian prisoners continue to stage hunger strikes of their own, breaking records of steadfastness unprecedented not just in Palestine, but the world over.

While calls for a change of tactics are warranted, if not urgent, there is another pressing change that must also be realized. There ought to be a change of Palestinian political culture, away from the repellent factional manipulation and towards a return to the basic values of the Palestinian struggle. It is the likes of Issawi, not Abbas that must define the new era of Palestinian resistance.

An Intifada has already been launched by thousands of Palestinian prisoners, some of whom are shackled to their hospital beds. It offers little in the way of perks aside from a chance at dignity and a leap of faith towards freedom. This is the dichotomy with which Palestinians must now wrangle. The path they will finally seek shall define this generation and demarcate the nature of the Palestinian struggle for generations to follow.

Palestinian hunger strikes: Why still invisible?

by Richard Falk, source

When it is realized that Mahatma Gandhi shook the British Empire with a series of hunger strikes, none lasting more than 21 days, it is shameful that Palestinian hunger strikers ever since last December continue to exhibit their extreme courage by refusing food for periods ranging between 40 and over 90 days, and yet these exploits are unreported by the media and generally ignored by relevant international institutions. The latest Palestinians who have aroused emergency concerns among Palestinians, because their hunger strikes have brought them to death’s door, are Hassan Safadi and Samer Al-Barq. Both had ended long earlier strikes because they were promised releases under an Egyptian brokered deal that was announced on May 14, 2012, and not consistently implemented by israel. Three respected human rights organizations that have a long and honorable record of investigating Israeli prison conditions have issued a statement in the last several days expressing their ‘grave concern’ about the medical condition of these two men and their ‘utmost outrage’ at the treatment that they have been receiving from the Israeli Prison Service.

For instance, Hassan Safadi, now on the 59th day of a second hunger strike, having previously ended a 71 day fast after the release agreement was signed, is reported by Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, to be suffering from kidney problems, extreme weakness, severe weight loss, headaches, dizziness, and has difficulty standing. It is well established in medical circles that there exists a serious and risk of cardio-vascular failure for a hunger strike that lasts beyond 45 days.

In addition to the physical strains of a prolonged hunger strike, the Israeli Prison Service puts deliberately aggravates the situation facing these hunger strikers in ways that have been aptly described as cruel and degrading punishment. Such language is generally qualifies as the accepted international definition of torture. For instance, hunger strikers are punitively placed in solitary confinement or put coercively in the presence of other prisoners or guards not on hunger strikes so as to be taunted by those enjoying food. It is also an added element of strain that these individuals were given false hopes of release, and then had these expectations dashed without even the disclosure of reasons. Both of these strikers have been and are being held under administrative detention procedures that involve secret evidence and the absence of criminal charges. The scrupulous Israel human rights organization, B’Tselem, has written that the use of administrative detention is a violation of international humanitarian law unless limited to truly exceptional cases, which has not been the case as attested even in the Israeli press. Hassn Safaedi’s experience with administrative detention exhibits the manner of its deployment by Israeli occupation authorities. Administrative detention was initially relied upon to arrest him when he was a child of 16, and since then he has served a variety of prison terms without charges or trial, and well authenticated reports of abuse, amounting to a total of ten years, which means that during his 34 years of life a considerable proportion of his life has been behind bars on the basis of being alleged security threat, but without any opportunity for elemental due process in the form of opportunity to counter evidence, presumption of innocence, and confronting accusations. Amnesty International has recently again called for an international investigation of the treatment of Palestinian detainees and reassurances that Palestinians are not being punished because they have recourse to hunger strikes.

It is important to be reminded of the context of hunger strikes. Such undertakings require great determination of which most of us are incapable, and an exceptionally strong inner commitment that connects life and death in a powerful, almost mystical, unity. It is no wonder that Palestinian hunger strikers have been inspired by the 1989 Tiananman Square Declaration of Hunger Strikers: “We are not in search of death; we are looking for real life.” The ten IRA hunger strikers, led by Bobby Sands, who died in 1981 at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland transformed the British Government’s approach to the conflict, leading to establishing at last a genuine peace process that was climaxed by the Good Friday Agreement that brought the violence mostly to an end. Hunger strikes of this depth send a signal of desperation that can only be Ignored by a mobilization of moral insensitivity generating a condition that Is somewhere between what psychologists call ‘denial’ and others describe as ‘moral numbness.’

So why has the world media ignored the Palestinian hunger strikers? Must we conclude that only Palestinian violence is newsworthy for the West?

Must Palestinian hunger striking prisoners die before their acts are of notice? Why is so much attention given to human rights abuses elsewhere in the world, and so little attention accorded to the Palestinian struggle that is supposed to engage the United Nations and underpin so much of the conflictual behavior in the Middle East? Aside from a few online blogs and the Electric Intifada there is a media blackout about these most recent hunger strikes, another confirmation of the Politics of Invisibility when it comes to Palestinian victimization.

After all, the United Nations, somewhat ill-advisedly, is one of the four parties (the others being the United States, Russia, the European Union) composing The Quartet, which has set forth the roadmap that is supposed to produce peace, and should exhibit some special responsibility for such a breach of normalcy in the treatment of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons. Addameer, al-Haq, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel have called on three international actors to do something about this situation, at the very least, by way of fact-finding missions and reports—UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, the European Union, and the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Is it too much to expect some sort of response? We do not expect the United States Government, so partisan in all aspects of the conflict, to raise its voice despite its protestations of concern about human rights in a wide array of countries and despite President Obama’s almost forgotten promises made in his June 2009 Cairo speech to understand the suffering of the Palestinian people and to turn a new page in Middle Eastern policy.

Since I have been following this saga of hunger strikes unfold in recent months, starting with Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi in December 2011, I have been deeply moved by the consistently elevated human quality of these hunger strikers that is disclosed through their statements and interactions with family members and the public. Their words of devotion and loving solidarity are possessed of an authenticity only associated with feelings rarely expressed except in extreme situations when life itself is in jeopardy. This tenderness of language, an absence of hate and even bitterness, and a tone of deep love and devotion is what makes these statements from the heart so compelling. I find these sentiments to be spiritually uplifting. Such utterances deserve to be as widely shared as possible to allow for a better understanding of what is being lost through this long night of the soul afflicting the Palestinian people. Surely, also, the politics of struggle is implicit, but the feelings being expressed are at once deeply political and beyond politics.

I can only hope that informed and sensitive writers, poets, singers, and journalists, especially among the Palestinians, who share my understanding of these hunger strikes will do their best to convey to the world the meaning of such Palestinian explorations in the interior politics of nonviolence. These are stories that deserve to be told in their fullness maybe by interviews, maybe through a series of biographical sketches, maybe by poems, paintings, and songs, but they need to be told at this time in the same spirit of love, empathy, solidarity, and urgency that animates theses utterances of the Palestinian hunger strikers.

I paste below one sample to illustrate what I have been trying to express: a letter from Hassan Safadi to his mother written during his current hunger strike, published on July 30, 2012 by the Electric Intifada, translated from Arabic by a young Palestinian blogger, Linah Alsaafin, who contributed a moving commentary that is a step in the direction I am encouraging:

“First I want to thank you dear mother for your wonderful letter, whose every word penetrated my heart and immersed me in happiness, love and tenderness. I am blessed to have a mother like you. Please thank everyone who stood in solidarity and prayed for me.

What increased my happiness and contentment was you writing that you raise your head up proudly because of me…I hope your head will always be lifted high and your spirits elevated oh loved one. As for waiting for my release, I remind you mother we are believers.

We are waiting for God’s mercy with patience…as Prophet Muhammad related God’s words, “I am as my slave thinks…” As you await my release, think positively and God willing, God will not leave you and your work and He will not disappoint your expectations.

Thank God I have a mother like you, a patient believer who prays for me from her heart, and I thank you dear mother for the beautiful song you wrote that warmed my chest as I read the lyrics..

Congratulations to Nelli’s [his sister] twins…I pray to God they will be attributed to Muslims and to Islam and for them to receive the best upbringing, and for their time to be better than our time.

Say hello and salute Abu Jamal and thank him for his efforts and say hello to Ayah and Amir and tell them I miss them, tell everyone who asked about me I say hello, and pray for them.

How beautiful the last line in your letter is! “God is with you, may He protect you and take care of you…I leave you in His safe hands.”

Please mother, always pray for me using those words especially in the month of Ramadan, happy holidays.

Your son”

Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years. Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Incarcerated inside “Israel”: Palestinians tortured, isolated

(File photo)

by Graham Peebles, source

Detention without trial, the presumption of guilt, denial of family visits, solitary confinement, torture, violent interrogation, and denial of access to appropriate health care, such is the Israeli judicial system and prison confinement experienced by Palestinian men, women and indeed children.

Currently there are, according to B’T selem “4,484 Palestinians – security detainees, confined in Israeli prisons.” Family contact is virtually impossible for prisoners, most of who are held inside Israel. This contravenes international law in the form of the universally trumpeted Fourth Geneva Convention (Article’s 49 & 76), consistently violated and disregarded by Israel.

International laws – legally binding upon Israel, who are not above the rule of law, must be respected and enforced. Richard Falk UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, in the UN news 2/5/12 called “on the international community to ensure that Israel complies with international human rights laws and norms in its treatment of Palestinian prisoners.” The UN makes its feelings clear in the ‘Question of Palestine Administrative Detention’ report (UNQAP) when it says, Israel “has historically ratified international agreements regarding human rights protection, whilst at the same time refusing to apply the agreements within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, attempting to create legal justifications for its illegal actions.” A comprehensive list of international legally binding agreements dutifully signed, ratified and consequently disregarded by various Israeli governments are cited by the UN, which sits hands tied, impotent it seems in the face of Israel’s illegal and violent occupation (a fact that cannot be stated often or loudly enough), submissive to the imperialist Godfather. America.

Since the six-day war in 1967 an estimated 750,000 Palestinians have been incarcerated in Israeli prisons, including 23,000 women and 25,000 children. This constitutes, Richard Falk states “approximately 20 per cent of the total Palestinian population in the occupied territory or 40 per cent of the Palestinian male population there.” Staggering figures of those personally imprisoned, whist a whole nation is held captive intimidated by an illegal occupying power upon their homeland.

Hungry for Justice

On the 14th May a major hunger strike by Palestinians held captive within Israeli prisons ended, just in time to save the lives of two prisoners close to death, having not eaten for 77 days. Protesting at their treatment in custody, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) use of solitary confinement, torture during interrogation and inside prison and administrative detention, which allows for incarceration without charge. The peaceful action initiated by two men held under the draconian administrative detention order in late February, grew into a mass action, which began on 17th April with, Amnesty estimates 2,000 prisoners on hunger strike.

Israel through the IPS responded to the strike with their customary brutality, assaulting striking detainees and imposing, Amnesty found in ‘Starved of Justice. Palestinians detained without Trial (SOJ),’ “systematic measures to punish hunger-striking prisoners and detainees and pressure them to end their strikes, putting their lives at risk. These measures included solitary confinement; preventing the detainees from contact with family members and lawyers; refusing to transfer hunger strikers whose health was in danger to hospitals suitable for their condition.” In fact many of the very issues the strikers were protesting about.

An agreement was reached between the Palestinians prisoners and the IPS, in which The United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) 4thJune 2012 reports, “Israel committed to meeting some of the prisoners’ demands in exchange for security guarantees.” The UN goes on to say, “As part of the deal, Israel committed to ease conditions as long as prisoners refrained from “security activity” inside Israeli prisons, such as “recruiting people for terrorist mission.”

By ‘easing conditions’ Israel committed to move prisoners from solitary confinement into the main block, – in every probability they aught not have been held in isolation to begin with and agreed to allow family visits from Gaza, denied since June 2007 when Hamas, to the fury of Israel, was democratically elected and took over governance of the Gaza Strip. However ‘limitations’ are to be placed upon family visits, the details of which Israel has yet to clarify. Ambiguity a weapon of control and manipulation utilised by the occupying power. In addition they conceded to “ease restrictions on visits from the West Bank, and improve the conditions under which “security prisoners” are being held.” All sufficiently vague as to be impossible to enforce or monitor.

They also agreed to not extend the detention of those being held under the contentious and illegal as employed by Israel, administrative detention order providing there is no “new information that requires their detention” Such ‘new information’ would no doubt be conveniently filed within top-secret folders denying open scrutiny, and remain undisclosed on ‘security’ reasons. A term increasingly and universally employed to justify the unjust in a World built on fear and the perpetuation of injustice.

All measures written into the agreement are long overdue, they constitute the minimum conditions that should be adhered to within any law-abiding society and if implemented, would be a positive move. It should not however take a large group of starving men to force Israel to observe the prisoners human rights including due process of law.

Israel’s concessions however are indifferent to the rule of law, carefully designed to be easily manipulated and over time forgotten, As Aber Issa Zakarni, the wife of Abadallah Zakarni, an imprisoned member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and one of those on hunger strike, told IRIN. “If this agreement is implemented, it means a great victory for us and for human rights. But I am also scared. In the end everything might just stay the same.” Her fears are well placed, a month after the deal was agreed Amnesty International in its detailed report ‘ Starved of Justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel ’ (SOJ) found “the Israeli authorities had agreed as part of the deal to release administrative detainees at the end of their current orders ‘unless significant new information was received’, our information is that it is business as usual when it comes to detention without charge or trial,” in fact “Israel has renewed at least 30 administrative detention orders and issued at least three new ones since this deal was struck, and family visits for Gazan prisoners have still not started.”

This failure by Israel to honour the agreement, their word and signature, will surprise nobody but disappoint many. The Israeli authorities cannot be trusted, close monitoring of any agreements the IPS/IDF sign up to is required and clear methods of implementation and indeed enforcement are necessary, although historically neither happen. For standing behind Israel, supporting them ideologically and diplomatically, arming and financing every area of illegal action of the occupation of Palestine, is of course their partner in crime, America.

Imperialist Measures

A key issue in the hunger strikers protest was administrative detention, a brutal relic from an imperial past. The darkest page within a catalogue of abuse and judicial arrogance, it is one of a series of suppressive measures written into the ‘Defence (Emergency) Regulations’, that formed part of the British authorities rule-book in mandatory Palestine to control the ‘Great Arab Revolt’ against British colonial rule and the influx of Jews in 1937. The draconian regulations were quietly pasted and copied into Israeli domestic legislation in 1948, where they remain, legitimizing actions such as house demolitions, extensive stop and search measures, the imposition of curfews, and indefinite administrative detention.

Administrative detention (AD) gives the occupying Israeli authorities the power to detain Palestinians (or indeed Israelis) without charge, withhold any evidence and to hold them ‘presumed guilty’ and as B’T Selem states, “since detainees do not know the evidence against them, they are unable to refute it.” With no notification of the ‘crime’ for which they are being held, negating all process of law and assuming guilt until proven innocent. It (AD) is as the UN (UNQAP) describes, “a procedure whereby a person is detained without charge or trial.”

The observation of due process of law is a fundamental human right. The European Convention on Human Rights, report on Due Process, states, “the rights to an effective remedy, to access to court/fair trial, to fair trial in criminal matters, to reputation, to freedom of movement and to property are all contained in the UDHR (Articles 8, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 17 respectively).” Administrative detention is only allowed under international law in extreme circumstances, it should the UN report (UNQAP) makes clear “be used as a last resort and on an individual, case by case basis.” Far from being exceptional over the past year the number of administrative detentions has almost doubled, as of March 2012, from a total of 4,610 Palestinians being held captive, B’T Selem state “Israel was holding 320 in administrative detention”.

Administrative detention should not, the UN go on to say “be used as a substitute for criminal prosecution when there is insufficient evidence.” As it clearly is being used by Israel, whose use of AD, like of course pretty much everything the Israeli forces are doing within the Occupied Palestinian Territories, “does not meet international standards set by international law” (UNQAP) In fact the UN report found that Israel contravenes the laws that apply to the use of administrative detention, the list of violations warrants inclusion in full, Israel they state:

• “Widely practices the use of torture and corporal punishment;
• Deports and incarcerates administrative detainees outside the Occupied Palestinian Territory;
• Uses administrative detention as a form of collective punishment;
• Engages in humiliating and degrading treatment of administrative detainees;
• Administrative detainees are usually not informed precisely of the reasons for their detention;
• Is obliged to release administrative detainees as soon as the reason for the detention ceases to exist;
• Detainees are not given the right to communicate with their families.
• Israel fails to separate administrative detainees from the regular prison population;
• The conditions of detention regularly fall below an adequate standard required by international law; and, In the case of child detainees, Israel regularly fails to take into account the best interests of the child as required under international law.

The tone of frustration is heard within every exasperated UN sentence. Israel tramples on international law, believing themselves above and beyond its reach. Laws, which, when dutifully lined up in opposition to Israeli criminality and abuse, and consistently implemented would be giant steps in righting the wrongs daily inflicted upon the Palestinian people and creating the conditions for peaceful co-existence.

Administrative Abuse

Detainees under administrative detention are sentenced to periods of six months, at the end of which the term may and inevitably is repeated, without limit. Those held captive are not informed if they will be released or held for a further six months until the end of their current term. The IPS manipulates inmates, tormenting them with promises of liberty and threats of incarceration, cultivating hope in order only to crush it, maximizing suffering and control. Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Israel: Stop Jailing People Without Charge, report the case of one of the hunger strikers, Tha’er Halahleh, 33 years of age, “Israel has held him in administrative detention a number of times since 2000, for a total of more than four years in jail without charge or trial.” Four years made up of six-month terms. As well as being illegal under international law (as the Un report makes clear), this is psychological torture, not only for the prisoner but their family also, who as Amnesty International in its detailed report ‘Starved of Justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel ’ (SOJ) make clear, suffer great anxiety, “administrative detainees and their families must live with the uncertainty of not knowing how long they will be deprived of their liberty and the injustice of not knowing exactly why they are being detained.”

Arrests and detention without charge based all too often on spurious ‘evidence’ secured by the unaccountable and secretive Israeli intelligence agency, whose claims cannot be verified, must stop. A legitimate demand human rights groups have been making for decades, Amnesty (SOJ) for one has “urged Israel to end the practice of administrative detention and to release detainees or charge them with an internationally recognizable criminal offence and try them according to international standards” Even Israel’ supreme spinner Mark Regev, seems to agree, saying The Guardian 13/5/2012 reports, “We would prefer administrative detention was only used when there was no alternative”, sadly though, as Mark in his wisdom explains “in some cases you can’t expose in a public forum your confidential sources and methods because it may put lives at risk.” By ‘sources’, one suspects he is obliquely alluding to Guantanamo Bay, where the use of torture is a useful method employed to elicit or coerce whatever information, coined evidence is required.

Adding Torture, Insult to Injury

Whilst held by Israel Administrative detainees and ‘regular’ Palestinian prisoners suffer verbal and physical abuse, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) 2011 report details, “Methods of torture included: insults; beating using batons, sharp tools, feet and hands; tying the feet and hands to a chair and beating with batons or wires; and other methods. Additionally, detainees were held in cells or small rooms, were placed in solitary confinement, and were forced to stand for long hours in cold weather or under the sun.” All are illegal under international law. This time in the form of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The practice of Isolating inmates completely from their family constitutes another form of torture, Palestinian prisoners are not allowed family visits, denied access to health care, contributing to deteriorating health for those with serious and chronic illness, they face forcible transfers, deportation and solitary confinement.

Words and Action

The UN secretary General, Ban Ki Moon in The Guardian (13/5/12) “urged that those detained must be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees or released without delay.” To all rational minded people, this is the correct and right course of action, echoed by Amnesty (SOJ) “Israel has a duty to uphold due process and fair trial rights, and to take effective action to end torture and other ill treatment of detainees.” Fine words and right, Israel however listens not to such pronouncements.

It is time long overdue that Israel was treated as the criminal state it is, one that disregards the law, tramples on human rights and sees itself as unaccountable. Action is needed to support such calls for the observation of human rights enforce the repeated demands for justice. Let Israel, who has imprisoned a nation’s people, be placed in solitary confinement, subjected to sanctions and forced to honour agreements and the rule of law, international and indeed domestic.

Perhaps then, after so many painful years, the suffering of the Palestinian people would come to an end and a gentle peace would be allowed to settle upon what was once the Holy Land.

Why is EU’s Catherine Ashton defending “Israel’s” use of administrative detention?

(File photo)

by Ali Abunimah, EI

Just days before Israel released Palestinian football hero Mahmoud Sarsak from three years of detention without charge or trial, Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs apparently gave her stamp of approval to Israel’s widely condemned practice of “administrative detention.”

In response to a question from members of the European Parliament, the EU’s top foreign affairs official pointedly refused to condemn Israel’s practice, even as Amnesty International has again called on Israel to end it once and for all.

Currently more than 300 Palestinian political prisoners are held by Israel without charge or trial.

Moreover, the circumstances in which she gave her statement suggest Ashton acted in order to ensure that Israel’s human rights abuses would not be discussed by the Foreign Affairs committee of the European Parliament.

Ashton ignores question on administrative detention for months

Back in February, as Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan made world headlines with his 66-day hunger strike, two European Green members of the European Parliament posed questions to Ashton about Israel’s use of administrative detention.

Judith Sargentini of the Netherlands and Nicole Kiil-Nielsen of France asked:

How does the High Representative [Ashton] assess the use of ‘administrative detention’, in the framework of the Treaties, the Charter, the ECHR [European Convention on Human Rights], ECHR case-law and international law, (especially, but not limited to, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention)?

Their multi-part question asked Ashton if she was “willing to condemn the use of ‘administrative detention’ by the Israeli authorities, in the case of Khader Adnan and in general? If not, why not?”

It also asked Ashton if she would “call on the Israeli authorities to ensure that persons placed in ‘administrative detention’ are either indicted/put on trial or released? If not, why not?”

Amnesty again condemns Israeli practice

Before we get to Ashton’s answers, it is important to remember how international human rights campaigners view Israel’s practice.

Yesterday, Amnesty International welcomed Israel’s release of Sarsak but once again called on Israel to end the use administrative detention:

“While the long overdue release of Mahmoud al-Sarsak is a huge relief to his family and friends, it doesn’t reflect any fundamental change in the use of administrative detention as state policy by the Israeli authorities,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director. “In fact it further underscores just how unjust, arbitrary and secretive this measure is.”

Last month, Amnesty issued an important report called “Starved of justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel” detailing the shocking abuses Palestinian prisoners face.

Ashton plays dumb about Israeli abuses

But when Ashton’s answer finally came on 6 July, there was no condemnation at all, only this bureaucratese which if anything justifies Israel’s widespread use of jailing Palestinians under occupation without charge or trial:

Without a determination in each individual case of the grounds for administrative detention and the legal basis thereof, it is impossible to generically brand administrative detention as illegal. This includes a determination of the legality of time spans for detention. However, administrative detention when properly sanctioned by a legal basis does not operate in a legal vacuum and needs, inter alia, to provide for the possibility of review of the requirement for continued detention by competent authorities.

The HR/VP [High Representative] has set out her concerns with regard to the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention clearly in the statement of 17 February 2012.

That’s it! Ashton’s reference to the 17 February 2012 statement points back to an equally weasel-worded utterance extracted from her only after several requests.

Note also how Ashton plays dumb, as if there are not mountains of evidence from a variety of credible sources, not least the Amnesty International report, about Israel’s abusive practices which would allow her to judge whether or not these amounted to violations of international human rights law.

Did Ashton seek to keep discussion of Israel’s abuses off European Parliament agenda?

Ashton’s mealy-mouthed statement may not be the end of her effort to shield Israel from scrutiny. There is also an indication that she may have timed her long-delayed answer to prevent the issue of administrative detention being discussed publicly in the European Parliament.

Because one of the questioners is a member of the Dutch Greens, I asked Oguz Arikboga, a policy advisor on foreign affairs for Groenlinks Europa (the Dutch Greens in the European Parliament) to provide some background.

Arikboga explained that normally written parliamentary questions to the European Commission (the executive arm of the European Union) are answered within about 6 weeks, though this can extend to 8-9 weeks with questions to Ashton.

But in this case, Ashton took almost five months to answer the question and, Arikboga said, that was after Parliament sent Ashton 4 formal notifications to provide an answer.

“If the Commission or in this case Ashton doesn’t answer the question within the given time limit,” Arikboga explained to me, then the Member of the European Parliament (MEP), “has the right to put it on the agenda of the relevant parliamentary committee.”

And so after months of Ashton’s stalling, “we sent an email saying we wanted this to be put on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs committee,” Arikboga said. And then, “Ashton suddenly ‘answered’ the question.”

Of course Ashton’s answer is a non-answer, carefully crafted to say nothing that could be construed as criticism of Israel.

But whether this was Ashton’s intention or not, it ensured that the question would not go on the Foreign Affairs Committee agenda where Ashton or her minions could be asked embarrassing questions in public.

Alive and victorious: Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak home after epic 3 month hunger strike

by Ali Abunimah, EI

Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak was greeted joyously in Gaza today as he returned home from the Israeli prison where he was held for three years without charge or trial and without visits from his family.

According to AP, Sarsak was taken to hospital in Gaza where, “he emerged from an ambulance and kissed his parents and siblings.”

Sarsak staged an epic three month hunger strike that brought him to the edge of death, which he ended last month after Israel met his demands and agreed to free him on this date.

Sarsak, a member of the Palestinian national football team, garnered worldwide support, including from international players’ association FIFPro, FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, and numerous world-renowned football players and athletes.

“Alive and victorious” – but other hunger strikers remain

Seventy-eight days into his hunger strike, Sarsak published a poignant “final distress call” along with fellow prisoner Akram Rikhawi. In an unforgettable sentence that spurred global action on the prisoners’ behalf, the men wrote:

there is still enough time and the support that comes late is better than that which does not come at all. It is better that you receive us alive and victorious rather than as lifeless bodies in black bags.

Today, Mahmoud Sarsak returned home alive and victorious to the joyous embrace of his mother. But Akram Rikhawi remains in Israeli jail in increasingly desperate conditions, along with at least two other hunger strikers.

Mahmoud Sarsak’s victory and return is a joyful and amazing achievement that deserves to be celebrated. But even as Sarsak’s release is celebrated, Rikhawi remains at risk of death…

Two months on hunger strike: Al-Rekhawi refuses IV, nears death

Moqawama

The Hunger-striking prisoner Akram al-Rekhawi, who is diabetic and asthmatic, is refusing an IV drip and consuming only water, a lawyer announced Wednesday.

Mona Neddaf, a lawyer for prisoner rights group Addameer, visited al-Rekhawi at “Israel’s” Ramle prison clinic on Tuesday.

“Al-Rekhawi has been on hunger strike since April 12 and has refused vitamins and fluids through an IV since Saturday”, Neddaf said. “He is extremely weak and struggling to drink water,” she added.

Al-Rekhawi told the lawyer he wished to be transferred to hospital for proper care.
“After more than two months on hunger strike, al-Rekhawi’s morale remains high but he feels his case has been forgotten,” Addameer said in a statement.

Al-Rekhawi is diabetic, asthmatic and suffers from osteoporosis and high blood pressure. He has been held in Ramle prison clinic since his arrest in 2004 and is demanding his release on medical grounds.

He is eligible for parole, having served two-thirds of a 12-year sentence but on June 5 an “Israeli” court rejected his request for release.

A representative for the so-called “Israeli” Physicians for Human Rights told Ma’an on Monday that al-Rekhawi was at immediate risk of heart failure or an asthma attack that could be fatal given his deteriorated condition.

An “Israeli” district court on Thursday rejected PHRI’s petition to allow independent doctors access to al-Rekhawi and refused to hospitalize him.

Al-Rekhawi was briefly hospitalized on Tuesday, while cuffed to a bed by his hands and legs, and returned to Ramle prison clinic, Palestinian Prisoner Society lawyer Jawad Boulus said.

A doctor from PHR-”Israel” warned that “Akram is at immediate risk of death, due to the combination of his protracted hunger strike and his prior chronic conditions, including diabetes and asthma.”

It added that Rikhawi was “extremely tired and weak and now weighs only 49 kilos.”

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