- By Richard Sudan
- Notebook – A selection of Independent views –, Opinion
- Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 4:00 am
Palestinian hunger strike comes to an end but the status quo is not sustainable
Women with their eyes blindfolded, mouths taped and hands tied are seen during a protest in the city of Jaffa, against the administrative detention of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails on 12 May.
Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, being held without being charge and without trial by the Israeli government, ended their hunger strike last Monday which was in protest at Israel’s policy of ‘administrative detention’.
Administrative detention is the practice carried out by the state, which means individuals that it incarcerates can be held for an indefinite amount of time, without the chance of seeing a trial, and without having access to many of the basic human rights afforded under international law.
A deal was struck on the same day, which according to sources means that Israel will grant some concessions to Palestinian prisoners, currently held under administrative detention, a deal which saw one of the biggest collective hunger strikes in recent memory come to a close.
One of the biggest hunger strikes in recent times that received virtually no airplay in the mainstream.
The details of the agreement were published on the prominent Palestinian news blog Electronic Intifada
A handful of prisoners during the hunger strike came dangerously close to death, with three prisoners having refused to eat any food for more than 70 days.
In addition, during the hunger strike, widespread condemnation of Israel’s practice of administrative detention, and other human rights violations were heard from all quarters, including the international community, the UN, and human rights organizations, reflecting the fact that at present opposition to oppression facing Palestinians is growing.
But it has taken a collective stand, of unprecedented proportions to draw attention to the injustices occurring within the walls of Israeli prisons; a stand that demanded respect, but which ultimately had the potential to draw the highest possible price. A hunger strike, as an absolute last resort, when all other means of legitimate opposition are exhausted, has to be one of the most desperate and dangerous means of ensuring ones voice is heard.
Solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners was reflected in a renewed bout of demonstrations in the West Bank and the Gaza strip, which were met with a response from the Israeli army that is as predictable as it is indicative of the bigger picture regarding the occupation of Palestinian land.
The Israeli army responded to the protests with aggression which characterizes the IDF, manifested in this instance in the form of tear gas and rubber bullets.
Demonstrations have been held for many days running here in London, and messages from many individuals involved in the struggle for justice both past and present have been expressed by those supporting the Palestinian hunger strikers-including some former Irish hunger strikers.
Last Wednesday the secretary general of the UN Ban ki Moon, strongly condemned Israel’s use of administrative detention urging the government to either charge or release the detainees ‘without delay’
Tuesday, May 15th saw the annual universal commemoration of ‘Nakba’ day. ‘Nakba’, the Arab word meaning the catastrophe marks and commemorates the partitioning of Palestinian land to accommodate the Jewish state, and the expulsion of Palestinian people from their homes.
On the Facebook page activists around the world for Palestine, pictures can be seen from all over the world, of Palestinians and non Palestinians marking the tragedy by coming together and reflecting the solidarity that ultimately will be the backbone or catalyst for change.
Last Saturday saw a mass demonstration outside the BBC headquarters, in response to their silence on the issue of the Palestinian hunger strike. It is hard to imagine 2000 prisoners going on a hunger strike in any other so-called democracy without it reaching state funded television.
Yesterday, a disturbing a video surfaced appearing to show settlers shooting at Palestinian villagers, with the Israeli army looking on. Reassuringly the Israeli government has said it will initiate an investigation.
One thing is certain; the status quo is no longer sustainable and the World is waking up to the reality of the injustices that are taking place.