Israel: Profile of a Police State

by Stephen Lendman

Police states are defined by lawlessness, injustice, and contempt for democratic values.
Merriam Webster calls them “political unit(s) characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures.”
Power trumps rights. Crackdowns enforce social control. Arrests, imprisonment, torture, and abuse are commonplace. Murder is committed with impunity. State terror is policy.

Palestinians understand well. They’ve suffered horrifically for decades. Legitimate resistance is called terrorism. Nonetheless, they persist.
Courageous prison hunger strikers define them. They vow to keep struggling for justice. On May 9, hundreds of family members, supporters, and human rights activists protested in front of the UN’s Ramallah office.
The international body has done nothing to help. Demonstrators chanted “(w)e don’t want wheat or bread. We want the liberation of detainees.” They demand UN officials intervene for justice.
Released hunger striker Khader Adnan called “surrounding the UN office….a daring move that aims at sending the detainees’ message to the world.” It’s also a “move that sheds light on the suffering of the political prisoners.”

After weeks of protest actions, Israel began negotiating. Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies head Fuad Al Khoffash called it “cheap bargaining.”

Israel offers easily reversed concessions. Prisoners are released, then harassed and rearrested. Promises are made, then broken. Israel doesn’t negotiate. It demands and wants things its way. Since 1967, Palestinians were denied all rights. Militarized occupation assures none.

Al Khoffash called Israel’s move a maneuver. At issue is subverting unity and breaking the spirit of detainees. They chose “dignity over food.” They won’t tolerate manipulation. They’ve been through this before. Harshness masquerades as concessions. Those made are then broken.

On May 7, Israel’s High Court spurned justice. In response to an urgent appeal to save Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh, they ruled let ‘em die. On May 10, both men reached hunger strike day 73.
They face imminent death. Neither committed crimes. They’re wrongfully imprisoned. So are thousands of other Palestinians.

Israel’s High Court won’t intervene. Reasons given are spurious. Right-wing justices work cooperatively with Netanyahu hard-liners. Palestinians behind or outside prison walls don’t have a chance.

On May 8, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) established a hunger striker “situation room.” Plans call for round the clock operation and cooperative efforts to “to gather and distribute any relevant information and to enable a public campaign for supporting the demands by the prisoners to respect their human rights.”

PHR-I will provide information for family members, their attorneys, doctors, and local as well as international human rights organizations and activists. Local and foreign diplomats will be kept informed. So will national and international media, as well as the public.
PHR-I listed prisoner demands. They include:

  1. Ending punitive isolation.
  2. Stopping the practice of imprisoning Palestinians in Israel. Doing so violates international law.
  3. Renewing family visits for Gazan detainees denied them for six years.
  4. Renewing them for West Bank and East Jerusalem prisoners whose families were denied visitation rights.
  5. Providing proper medical care, including access to independent physicians and civilian hospitalization when serious medical conditions exist.
  6. Terminating daily punitive, violent cell and strip searches. Usually done late at night, sleep is disrupted one or more times.
  7. Ending strip searches for visiting family members.
  8. Terminating shackling prisoners during family and attorney visits, as well as when hospitalized for medical care.
  9. Fulfilling prisoners’ right to education.
  10. Ending all severe, disproportional punishments.
  11. Ending violations of other basic rights, including attorney visits during ongoing investigations and restricting judicial oversight.

PHR-I “supports the prisoners’ struggle and their demand for a full respect of their human rights. We are acting on several levels in order to make sure that the prisoners’ rights are maintained in the course of the hunger strike.”

“PHR is making a significant effort to treat and represent people whose medical condition is the worst, and whose right to health and appropriate treatment is being violated behind prison walls.”

Nearly one-third of uncharged Palestinian administrative detainees have been held from six months to a year. Another third endured one to two years of incarceration.

Thirteen have been imprisoned from two to four years, and another two for over four and half years UNCHARGED. Israel can hold them forever in limbo harshness.

Nearly all Israeli prison facilities are within its borders. Incarcerating Palestinians there violates international law. Holding them anywhere spurns it. They’re innocent. They committed no crimes. Free societies don’t govern this way. Police states do. On issues affecting Palestinians, Israel is one of the worst.

Israel’s High Court Affirms State of Emergency Conditions

On May 8, the High Court rejected an Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) petition. At issue is canceling an official state of emergency in force since May 1948 after Israel’s war of independence.
In 1992, the Knesset passed Basic Law: The Government which created an outer limit to the state of emergency for one year reserves the right for unlimited renewals.

Each government took full advantage despite no justification whatever. Israel hasn’t been attacked for nearly 40 years. Yet a virtual state of war exists.

As a result, authorities maintain unconstitutional police state powers. Draconian harshness is enforced. Freedoms are restricted or denied, including expression, labor and property rights.

The court ruled “Israel is a normal country that isn’t normal.” The statement defies logic. Falsely, the decision said Israel “essentially fulfills its mandate as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Jewish, yes, although 20% of its population is Muslim. Democratic, no. Israel mocks democracy. Arabs have no rights. Even Jewish ones are compromised.

Israel “is not normal,” the court held, “in that its existential threats have yet to be quelled….the battle against terror continues, and apparently will continue for the foreseeable future.”

Israel’s only threats are those it invents to impose occupation harshness, attack neighboring states, and threaten other nonbelligerent ones like Iran.

Stop the Wall Activists Targeted


On May 8 at 1:30AM, Stop the Wall (STW) activists issued an “Action alert: STW office raided by Israeli military,” saying:

Ten armored jeeps, dozens of security forces, and intelligence agents surrounded and raided STW’s Ramallah offices. Their property was confiscated. Seized were two laptops, three hard drives, and 10 memory cards with files and photos.

Authorities also took “archival material relating to the work that (STW) does in opposition to Israel’s apartheid wall and the attack on Palestinian human rights that the wall and” settlements represent.
“This is a renewed attack upon Palestinian civil society and their struggle against the physical and psychological oppression, land confiscation and ethnic cleansing policies of the Israel.”

The raid coincided with High Court injustice condemning Bilal and Thaer to death. At issue is quashing resistance before further traction is gained, behind and outside prison walls.

Earlier, STW activists were harassed, raided, and terrorized. Today they say they’re stronger than ever. They have global support. Word spreads. STW urges supporters tell others, demand their governments intervene, and “(l)et Israel know that walls cannot isolate anybody!”

A Final Comment

On May 8, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) issued an “Urgent Alert: Imminent Displacement Risk in the Jerusalem Periphery,” saying:

Palestinian residences in the West Bank’s Area C (east of Jerusalem) face “looming threat of immediate demolition.” Those threatened “include EU-funded residential structures provided in response to previous demolitions in the area.”

Mostly Bedouin communities are affected. They’re targeted for ethnic cleansing to provide land for Israeli residential and commercial development.

Communities were told “they have no option but to leave.” It’s part of a larger scheme to steal all valued Judea and Samaria land. Total Judaization is planned. Arabs aren’t wanted. Those unwilling to leave will be forced out.

Areas most affected include Jerusalem’s periphery, the Jordan Valley, and south Hebron Hills. Israel wants Palestinians excluded. Eviction orders are issued. Private property is confiscated. Residents have lived there for decades, some for generations. International law is violated.

Israel’s Civil Administration (ICA) falsely claims Palestinian structures were built illegally. It also calls Area C sovereign Israeli territory. It comprises over 60% of the West Bank. It contains valued water resources. Israel wants Palestinians denied them, including on their own private property.

Since 1997, ICAHD courageously resisted lawless Israeli demolitions. It also addresses land theft, settlement expansions, Jews-only by-pass roads, apartheid “closure” and “separation” policies, destroying Palestinian fruit and olive trees, the Separation Wall, besieged Gaza, and other vital issues.
It opposes Israel’s lawless occupation and repression of Palestinians wanting to live free, on their own land, in their own country peacefully. It’s their sovereign right.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

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Halahleh on Death Bed, ’’Israel’’ Seeking Deal with Prisoners

Local Editor

The Palestinian Thaer Halahleh who has been on hunger strike for 73 days in protest at his detention by the Zionist entity has been told he “could die any moment” by a prison doctor.
Halahleh, who was recently transferred to a hospital after refusing to drink water, is reportedly on his deathbed.

A lawyer from al-Quds-based charity Addameer described Halahleh’s deteriorating condition.

“Halahleh has lost significant weight, and now weighs 55kg,” said the NGO.
It further warned that “he has exceedingly low blood pressure and his temperature is fluctuating at dangerous levels. In addition to vomiting blood, Halahleh is also bleeding from his gums and lips.”

“Israel’s” supreme court rejected a request by Halahleh and fellow hunger striker Bilal Diab to be freed.
This came as “Israel” still refuses to transfer Diab and Halahleh to hospital after 73 days on hunger strike, the Prisoners Society said Friday.

Diab, 27, and Halahleh, 33, are being held in the “Israeli” prison clinic, Prisoners’ Minister Qaddura Fares said, adding that the “Israeli” authorities refused to allow the society’s lawyer to visit them on Thursday.

However, it seems that “Israel” started to surrender.

According to news agencies, “Israel’s” prison service has offered to ease restrictions on Palestinian prisoners in a bid to end a mass hunger strike that has left several detainees close to death.

An official with Addameer told AFP on Thursday that negotiations between prisoners and the “Israel” Prison Service (IPS) appeared to be making progress.

“According to what we have learned from the prisoners, there was a meeting last night in Nafha prison between the IPS and leaders of the hunger strike,” she said.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by moqawama.org

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Empty Stomach Warriors: On The Streets of Ramallah

Photo Blog by Dylan Collins

Solidarity demonstrations took place throughout the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday, May 8, in support of the growing movement demanding just judicial proceedings and fair treatment for Palestinian prisoners within the Israeli judicial and penal systems.

In coordination with Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, a group of approximately 1400 prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike on 17 April 2012, in protest at Israel’s exploitive use of administrative detention, which enables indefinite detention without trial, and its habitual mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners. The Addameer Association for Prisoner Support and Human Rights estimate the number of those on hunger striking movement has grown to upwards of 2,000 prisoners.

As they entered their 22nd day without food, a smaller group of prisoners advanced to a much later stage of their strikes. Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Thiab, both of whom are held without charge or official evidence, entered their 71st day of hunger strike on Tuesday, while other strikers Hassan Safadi (66 days), Omar Abu Shanan (65 days), Mohammad Taj (52 days), Mahmoud Sarsak (51 days), and Jaafar Ezzedine (48 days) are also in danger.

Tuesday’s solidarity demonstrations, which teemed through downtown Ramallah before battling waves of tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets outside Israel’s Ofer Prison on the outskirts of the city, culminated in an afternoon march upon Palestinian Authority (PA) Presidential compound.

(Photo: Dylan Collins)

(Photo: Dylan Collins)

(Photo: Dylan Collins)

(Photo: Dylan Collins)

(Photo: Dylan Collins)

(Photo: Dylan Collins)

(Photo: Dylan Collins)

(Photo: Dylan Collins)

(Photo: Dylan Collins)

(Photo: Dylan Collins)

(Photo: Dylan Collins)

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Salute to the Daughters of Palestine; the Mothers of Palestinian Political Prisoners

Every now and then, she would give a zaghrouteh for the prisoners and their struggle. One woman came and kissed her hand and wrapped the Palestinian flag around her shoulder.
A young man in his early twenties walked towards another mother and kissed her hand. She too hugged the picture of her son who had received several life sentences.
My cousin introduced to another mother, whose two children received several life sentences. She held their pictures and every now and then would look at the pictures and smile at them. And as these mothers talked about their children, hugging their pictures, wiping the dust off the frame as if fearing the dust would cause discomfort to their children, I remembered my grandmother and the many times when she would spend the day visiting her 4 children, running from one jail to another, just to visit them, to see them, to hear their voice, to tell them how much she loved them, to ask if they were fine, if they needed anything.
She never complained, despite the harsh trip or the long distances she had to travel, and only thought of her children, my uncles, and seeing them and talking to them, and maybe, just maybe, being able to touch their fingers through the division wire during the visit. Her only worry was always missing a visit because my uncles were distributed in various jails. With time, as she was forced to travel even longer distances, we started dividing ourselves to be able to visit all my uncles whenever the visits happened to be on the same day.
Mother of Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike Bilal Thiab. source: google images
Today, as thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held captive in Israeli dungeons enter their 23rd day of general open hunger strike, solidarity actions, protests and marches extend from Jerusalem to Acca, from Gaza to Um Il-Fahim, from Nablus to An-Nasrah, from Cairo to Paris, from Amman to Rome, from London to Ankara. In the protest tents spread across occupied Palestine, their heads raised despite the pain, keeping back the tear, and often not succeeding, it is the mothers of Palestinian prisoners, our mothers, the daughters of Palestine, who are forever present.
They are the first to join protests in solidarity with their children on hunger strike, and in support of all their children, for a Palestinian prisoner is the son/daughter of every Palestinian mother.
They are the first to set up protest tents, the first to march towards the Red Cross or the UN buildings and remind the world of the heroes buried in Zionist dungeons. They are present everywhere, they lead the protests, their voices ringing through time and space, breaking the silence of the world, writing the names of their children high in the sky, high up, where no one can erase them, where no one can ignore them, where everyone can see them: Tha’ir, Bilal, Khader, Hana’, Hassan, Omar, Mohammad, Faris, Ja’far, Abdallah, Ahmad, Wurud and every single one of them.
Dear mothers,

Mother of Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike Hasan As-Safadi. source: google images
Add captionAdd captionI have no words to describe your greatness, because an ocean of words will fall short of describing your courage, your steadfastness, your patience. I see you, and I wish I could wipe away that tear before it falls, I wish I could bring a smile to your aching heart, I wish I could touch your hand and make all your nightmares disappear. I hear you zaghroutah despite your pain, ringing in the sky over Palestine, saluting the revolutionaries and freedom fighters everywhere, and slapping the cowards, the traitors and all those who want to sell Palestine in return for a Bantustan and a chair and a palace. I hear your prayer, shortening distances, breaking the walls of the dungeons and reaching your child in the dungeon: ‘Allah yirda 3alek yamma’.
Your children are our brothers, our sisters, our comrades, our friends. They are our voice raised against injustice, our rock standing steadfast in the face of the storm, our teachers, our leaders, our heroes. Since the Zionist terrorists occupied and colonized Palestine, your children have kept the flame of resistance alive, have chosen action over apathy, courage over cowardice, and resistance over surrender and dignity over food. And today, they continue to carry the flame of resistance, they continue to lead us, continue to defy the jailors, continue to resist, for us, for every Palestinian, for every dignified human being, for Palestine.
Your children are heroes, dear mothers of Palestine. With every battle, with every hunger strike, with every new day, they write the name Palestine in history books, they fight injustice and defy a blind, deaf and mute world. With every passing day, your children break the chains of captivity, break down the walls of the dungeons, and march towards freedom, towards Jerusalem. They are more free than we are, for they defy the chains and the walls and revolt, they defy the jailors and the killers and live, they defy injustice through stomachs empty of food and through hearts full of the love for Palestine.
They are the heroes of the Palestinian people, the heroes of Palestine, every single one of them. And it is our duty to support them in their struggle, to make their voices heard, to tell their stories and to make their demands ours. It is our duty to demand their freedom, demand justice for them. It is our duty to join them in their march towards freedom.
In his poem “My Mother”, late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish addressed his mother saying:
I must be worth my life
At the hour of my death
Worth the tears of my mother
Today, thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held captive is Israeli dungeons enter their 23rd day of general open hunger strike.
  • Bilal Thiab enters his 72 day of open hunger strike in protest of his arbitrary detention.
  • Tha’ir Halahleh enters his 72 day of open hunger strike in protest of his arbitrary detention.
  • Hasan As-Safadi enters his 66 day of open hunger strike in protest of his arbitrary detention.
  • Omar Abu Shallal enters his 64 day of open hunger strike in protest of his arbitrary detention.
  • Mohammad At-Taj enters his 56 day of open hunger strike in protest of his arbitrary detention.
  • Mahmoud Sirsik enters his 50 day of open hunger strike in protest of his arbitrary detention.
  • Ja’far Izz Iddin enters his 49 day of open hunger strike in protest of his arbitrary detention.
Faris An-Natour enters his 44 day of open hunger strike in protest of his arbitrary detention.
Abdallah Al-Bargouthi enters his 28 day of open hunger strike in protest of the policy of isolation.
Freedom for ALL Palestinian political prisoners held captive in Israeli dungeons.
Freedom for ALL political prisoners held captive in Israeli dungeons.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Empty Stomach Warriors (IV): Thaer Halahleh All in The Name

Israeli Arab protesters hold posters depicting Palestinian hunger strikers Thaer Halahla and Bilal Thiab who are in administrative detention during a protest outside Israel’s Supreme Court in Jerusalem on 3 May 2012. (Photo: AFP – Gali Tibbon)
 
Published Tuesday, May 8, 2012
On Monday May 7, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the appeals for the release of Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Thiab, who are imprisoned by Israel without charge or trial. The men are on their 70th day of hunger strike.

Thaer’s father came to Ramallah from Hebron, and sat in the prisoners’ solidarity tent at Clock Square with a photo of his son hanging from his neck. His daughter Fathiya sat by his side, the gravity of her brother’s bleak situation apparent on her face.

The Halahleh family found out about the court’s appeal rejection through the media, before the lawyer Jamal Khatib had time to properly inform them. Thaer’s wife Shireen had a nervous breakdown and had to be taken immediately to hospital. The family home was filled with visitors once the news was heard, but there was a conscious decision not to tell Thaer’s mother the truth because of her frail health. “We are here to wait for Thaer’s release,” was what they told her.

“The court’s decision was expected,” Thaer’s father said. “It was expected from the [Israeli] occupation. They told the media first so we could find out the hard way, which just proves that this wicked occupation is determined to make us suffer.”

The first time 33 year old Thaer was arrested by the Israeli occupation army was just before his senior year in high school. He was held for three months on administrative detention, again not being charged with anything. In 1999, he was arrested again and sentenced for two years for belonging to the Islamic Jihad group. Because of his frequent arrests and time spent in prison, Thaer only managed to study for one year at Hebron University. Later on he managed to open a used furniture store.

According to Fathiya, Thaer spent a total of ten years in Israeli prisons, the majority being under administrative detention. He was arrested two weeks after his wedding and held for a year and a half. Five months after his release, Thaer was arrested again, with his wife heavily pregnant.
 

On 14 June 2010 just after midnight, around 30 Israeli occupation soldiers surrounded the Halahleh family home before charging in with three police dogs. The children were woken up and were terrified by the police dogs, which the soldiers kept bringing close to them. The Israeli military commander of the Hebron governate was present and told Thaer as they arrested him that as long as he was Hebron’s military commander, Thaer will always be in prison.

Thaer immediately received a six month administrative detention order, which has been renewed several times.

A month later on July 19, Thaer became a father to baby Lamar but only got to meet her months later on October 9, the first visit allowed him since his last arrest and the only time his family were able to see him. Lamar is almost 2 years old now, and knows her father through pictures. She goes to sleep with a photo of her father tucked beneath her cheek. She is convinced that there is a wedding every day because of the solidarity tent set up outside the family home in the Hebron village of Kharaas. Her mother Shireen cries privately when Lamar insists on wearing a new dress every day.

Thaer’s older brother Shaher was sentenced to seventeen years in Israeli prison, and has spent ten years and two months so far. When Thaer was arrested in 2010, he was transferred from Ofer prison in Ramallah to Eshel prison in Bir Sabe’, then to the Naqab prison, where Shaher is held. They were absolutely forbidden from seeing each other by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), even for a brief visit. Recently the IPS wanted Shaher to pressure Thaer into ending his hunger strike, and as a response Shaher began his hunger strike on April 16 in solidarity with his brother. Thaer was placed in solitary confinement many times for leading the Friday prayers sermons, which the IPS consider as “incitement” and for his solidarity strikes with Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi.

“Ever since his childhood, Thaer was always attached to the Palestinian cause,” his father recalled. “When he was in fifth grade he wrote a great essay on why he loves Palestine. That stems from what this family has been through under occupation.”

Thaer in Arabic means “Rebel.” His grandfather was imprisoned by Israel after the 1967 war, and Thaer’s father was also arrested numerous times.

“I was arrested in the first intifada and was imprisoned when the prisoners Bassam Samouri and Asad Shawa died after the hunger strike in 1988,” Thaer’s father said. “I was arrested again during the second intifada and held for two years under administrative detention.”

Thaer was very close to his father. “I can’t find the right words to describe my feelings about my son…he’s the most like me both in image and personality. He loved to give to people, he’s a unique person. He was like a candle unto those around him. He loves life, and he made that clear in his court hearing on May 3rd.”

In fact, Thaer’s exact words were “I am a man who loves life, and I want to live in dignity. No human can accept being in jail for even one hour without any charge or reason.”
 

Thaer’s father now says, “I ask all the prisoners, especially administrative detainees, to share in this current mass hunger strike on its 21st day, not just for my son but for the seven other hunger strikers who have entered their third month without food.”

“The UN does not care about the Palestinian prisoners or Palestine. The UN are a failure. They are weak and allow Israel to behave with impunity,” he added.

“My son Thaer has a very strong and unyielding character,” his father continued. “I expected him to maintain his hunger strike past seventy days from the moment he started it. I know my son. He has vowed to hunger strike until freedom or martyrdom. I say to the occupation, if you kill Thaer or Bilal, a million more Thaer and Bilal will rise up!” He paused. “We used to write poetry together,” he shared. “I always repeat this verse in my mind.”

If my love for Palestine is a crime
Let the world be witness to the fact that we are criminals
We will make the rock understand if the people do not
And if the people rise up we will be victorious
 

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Israel Court Rejects Hunger Strikers’ Detention Appeal

Local Editor

Thaer Halahla and Bilal Diab
Jihad Movement: the Occupation Decides to Execute Diab and Halahleh
A Zionist military court on Monday refused an appeal by long-term hunger-strikers Thaer Halahla and Bilal Diab to end their detention without charge, prisoners groups said.
Muhjat al-Quds society for the defense of prisoners said Ofer military court rejected the appeal against the prisoners’ administrative detention, on the 69th day of their hunger-strike.
Lawyer Jamil Khatib will now take their petitions to ‘Israel’s Supreme Court’. The rulings show the negotiations to end the prisoners’ hunger strike have failed, as they refused the Zionist suggestion to deport them to Gaza, Addameer Director Sahar Francis told media sources.
Negotiations are more difficult now that over a thousand prisoners have joined the hunger strike, as the Zionist authorities say they refuse to encourage others by agreeing not to renew the hunger-strikers’ administrative detention, Khatib said.

Diab, from Jenin, has been held without charge since August 2011. In February, the Zionist authorities extended the 27-year-old’s sentence for a further six months without a trial.

Halahla, from Hebron, was detained in July 2010. The 33-year-old’s administrative detention order has been renewed several times, most recently on March 5 for another six months.



Hana Al--Shalabi returning to Gaza
New prisoners join the strike in Negev prison



A wave of hunger strikes has drawn attention to the Zionist decades-long use of administrative detention, under which over 300 Palestinians are currently held without charge.
Palestinian prisoner Khader AdnanThe Israeli occupation authority said it refused to disclose accusations or evidence to lawyers or detainees due to security concerns.
The Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR) group slammed the court ruling.
“The court’s decision is a death sentence for both of them,” PHR spokeswoman Amani Daif told AFP.
Detainee Hassan Safadi continues his hunger strike for the 63 days
“Their lives are in danger and their families are still banned from seeing them,” she said. “They could die any moment now.”
Meanwhile, a Zionist official confirmed progress in the case of a mass hunger strike being observed by more than a third of the Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel.

As Diab and Halahla entered day 69 of their hunger strike, they were joined by another 1,200 detainees who began refusing food on April 17 in a bid to demand better conditions.

That number has now grown to “approximately 1,600 prisoners on hunger strike,” ‘Israel Prisons Service (IPS)’ spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told AFP on Monday.

Among their demands are increased access to lawyers, family visits, and an end to both solitary confinement and administrative detention.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Empty Stomach Warriors (III): Omar Abu Shalal Sets His Mind

A Palestinian youth sits in side a mock cage with his hands tied in chains during a protest after Friday prayer to call for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in Gaza City on 27 April 2012. (Photo: AFP – Mohammed Abed)
Published Monday, April 30, 2012
On 15 August 2011, Omar Abu Shalal was attempting to cross the Allenby Bridge – one of the crossings between the West Bank and Jordan – with his sister Samira, when Israeli authorities promptly arrested him.
Omar was immediately sent to Ofer prison just west of Ramallah. A few hours later he was handed a six-month administrative detention order, without knowing why he was imprisoned or what the charges against him were.
He was travelling to Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage when he was arrested. It was in the middle of the month of Ramadan. While his sister continued on the journey, Omar found himself transferred to Megiddo prison near Haifa.
Omar has lived under an occupation regime where adhering to a certain political rhetoric is ample excuse to be arrested for years, or even imprisoned for life.
What makes his story unique is that he was wanted by and imprisoned by the Israeli army and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Politically affiliated with Hamas, Omar was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 36 months in prison. During that period Omar’s mother passed away without seeing her incarcerated son, which as Samira recounted, devastated him.

Following infighting between members of Hamas and Fatah in 2007, Omar fled to Jenin to keep a low profile as he was wanted by the PA for one year. Following June 2007, the month which saw the highest number of casualties in the fighting, 4000 followers of Hamas were arrested as part of the PA’s systematic clampdown on Hamas supporters. Three months later, the PA arrested Omar and he was sentenced to one year and a half in the Jneid prison in Nablus, a facility that was known for human rights abuses and for torturing Hamas affiliates. According to an AP report, these measures have desisted since the year 2010.

 
Fifty-four-year-old Omar is divorced with no children, and lives in one of Nablus’ three refugee camps, al-Ain. He has a two-year diploma in electrical maintenance and works as a porter in the city center, off-loading trucks, and transporting goods on foot. According to Samira, he had no plans to remarry.
On 15 February 2012, Omar’s detention was further extended by six months. Inspired by the hunger strikes of Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi, and by the solidarity strikes of Bilal Thiab and Thaer Halahleh, Omar began his open-ended hunger strike on March 7.
In the solidarity tent set up in the middle of Nablus’ bustling city center, several posters of Omar Abu Shalal have been put up with small papers taped on top marking the number of days he’s been on hunger strike. On Monday April 30, Omar entered his fifty-sixth day without food.
“When I first heard of his strike, I welcomed it,” Samira confessed. “At the same time, I was scared for him, since I know that when my brother sets his mind to something he won’t back down until he’s achieved whatever it is he wanted. He always had strong faith in undertaking big decisions like this.”
The lawyer representing Omar, Mohammad al-Abed, reported that when he saw Omar on April 22, he was complaining of severe pain in his stomach and head. His blood pressure was low, and his diabetes symptoms were severe. Despite this, Abed insisted Omar’s morale was very high, and that he was unwavering in continuing his strike.

“I’ve requested an appeal for Omar’s case in the Israeli High court,” Abed said. “I’m waiting to hear whether the appeal will be accepted or rejected. Given the dangerous level his health is at, every day that passes without receiving an answer from the court is extremely risky.”

 
An appeal for an administrative detainee revolves around the misuse of administrative detention, thus challenging the prisoner’s imprisonment on that basis. Abed plans to use Omar’s sharply deteriorating health as a pretext for challenging his detention, but the lawyer admits that it’s a long shot that it will be even taken into consideration by the Israeli prosecutor and judge.
Samira is critical of the PA’s silence over the prisoners in Ramleh prison hospital who have refused food for two months, and over the mass hunger strike that began on April 17 with an estimated 2000 prisoners participating.

“I demand that Abu Mazen take a stance on this issue, which is one of the pillars of our cause. He’s been negotiating with Israel for years now and our situation has just gotten worse. He should be negotiating to release prisoners, something that is worthy. I suppose the PA is scared that the current hunger strike movement might hurt its relations with Israel, so that is why they have kept quiet. What does that say about our ‘leadership?’”

Her eyes momentarily glisten over when asked about facing her brother’s impending death. “We hope Omar will come back home to us alive and well. Whatever is written by God will happen. Our faith in Him is enormous.”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

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