What a Palestinian’s hunger strike tells about the fate of Israel’s occupation

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What a Palestinian’s hunger strike tells about the fate of Israel’s occupation

Post by Guest on Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:15 pm

Last week Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq ended a record 94-day hunger strike in protest at the so-called “administrative detention” in Israeli jail.

Administrative detention is a misnomer, and is used to hold Palestinian activists in military confinement without charges or due-process.

The six-month administrative order can be extended indefinitely, without informing the detainees of the charges or giving them or their counsels the right to examine the evidence against them.

It is just one instrument of the oppressive Israeli occupation that drives the civil movement underground and transforms it to violent resistance.

Under international law administrative detention could be permissible under exceptional circumstances. It comes, however, with rigid restrictions on its application.

But in the case of Israel the exception is the norm.

The latest political prisoner, Al-Qiq, had been on the verge of death when Israel finally agreed not to extend his detention beyond the current six-month order.

According to the Israeli organisation Physicians for Human Rights, Al Qiq’s hunger strike lasted longer than the 1981 hunger strikes by members of the Irish Republican Army who were held by Britain in Northern Ireland.

An appeal by Al-Qiq’s lawyer, Jawad Boulus, to Israel’s Supreme Court to release his client had earlier been rejected.
The court ruled that the military judge’s order to detain him was legal.

According to Boulus, the Supreme Court was “briefed on classified material” that he was neither allowed to review nor challenge.

About eight years ago, Al-Qiq served 16 months in Israeli jails for political activities on the elected student council at Birzeit University.

At the time of his detention, the 33-year-old father of two worked as a TV correspondent for the Saudi’ Al-Majd television.

Al Qiq was arrested during a raid by the Israeli army in the middle of the night on his home in the city of Ramallah.

The city, according to agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) is located in Area A, ostensibly under the PA’s full civil and security control.

On 25 November 2015, four days after his arrest, Al-Qiq started a hunger strike to protest at his ill-treatment and detention without due process.

Thereafter, a battle of wills ensued between the captive and his jailers.

In early January, he was strapped to his bed for four days and forcibly fed intravenously.

On 1 February, Al-Qiq’s wife, Fayha Shalash, told reporters that her husband had requested not to receive any medical treatment, even if he loses consciousness. “His decision is very clear: either freedom or death, not something in between.”

Israeli jailers continued to monitor his deteriorating health hoping that the pain of his “self-torture” would eventually force him to end his strike.

Driven purely by devilish schadenfreude, the Israeli authorities watched him on closed circuit TV, screaming in agony as his internal organs started to fail.

Gravely ill but not totally collapsed, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a petition by Al-Qiq’s on 16 February to transfer him to a Palestinian hospital. The court sided with the military’s secret evidence that he would represent a threat if he was released from Israeli custody.

In the last week of February, Al-Qiq lost the ability to speak and was at risk of death.

Realising he would never surrender, his jailers ultimately agreed not to extend his six-month administrative detention order. Unfortunately, it took Al-Qiq 94 days of extreme agony to show the world that Israel had no real cause to detain him in the first place.

While there have been very few instances where Israeli Jews are held in administrative detention, the law is applied disproportionally to Palestinian activists.

Israel compares only to apartheid South Africa, which used administrative detention widely in an effort to crush the opposition to apartheid.

Israel has failed to break the will of another prisoner. As with apartheid South Africa, it will not succeed in subjugating the will of a people longing for justice and freedom from an imported ethnocentric occupation.



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