Since September 27th, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held captive in Israeli prisons in both Israel and Gaza have been on a hunger strike, and on Wednesday the 12th of October, I’ll be joining them. For a day.
I’m not a prisoner.
I’m not Palestinian.
I’m not Arabic.
I’m not Muslim.
I’m not religious.
I’m not anti-semitic.
I’m not an expert on the Middle East.
I’m not a journalist.
I’m not a serious blogger.
What I am is human.
And outraged that thousands of detainees, held without evidence or trial, are being denied medical attention, sufficient food and drink, family visits, access to lawyers, education, news, fresh air, space, light, interaction, hygiene, dignity. In the same facilities, those actually convicted of crimes receive far better treatment, while Palestinians are subject to solitary confinement and murdered from internationally banned torture practices, and medical negligence.
I’m outraged that an entire nation is being held prisoner by the state of Israel within its ever shrinking boundaries; brutalised, intimidated. They are not allowed to fish the seas and to do so to feed their families must risk being shot. Their houses and olive groves bulldozered to allow for the building of Israeli settlers’ houses. Their livelihoods destroyed, as with their families and hopes.
Outraged that Palestinians do not have the right to build houses, and even erect tents on their own land. That blockades prevent essential building supplies, medical supplies, food and aid from entering the country, while its population is living in fear, sorrow, poverty and unemployment.
Outraged that the mainstream media never reports on the true extent of these atrocities, if at all. There is nothing, nothing on this particular story on the BBC News website, at the time of writing anyway. Nor the Indepedent’s. Nor the Guardian. Sources I’d like to trust, at least more so than Fox News and CNN. France 24 has a tucked away article about the state of the prisoners’ health being good. Al Jazeera at least has a bit more.
I’m outraged and disgusted that the governments of the US, and European countries, aside of course from being the architects of the situation, do little now to prevent it. That they exasperate it through sanctions, support of the blockade, limit and reduction of aid, and worse of all supply arms to Israel who will indiscriminately bomb, missile and gun down innocent civilians under the guise of protecting themselves from terrorists.
Terrorists? An impoverished nation being crushed by Israel, proudly refusing to lie down and die. Wouldn’t you?
And if mainstream media continues to cover a diluted picture, at best, then just as with the Occupy movements worldwide, it’s time for people to take control and raise awareness ourselves throughout the international community. With each campaign, the Palestinian people’s voices are heard louder, globally. It’s time for more of us to speak up for those whose voices are being silenced and pressure our leaders that this is not acceptable.
It wasn’t acceptable during Apartheid, and there are so many parallels to draw on here; Thatcher declaring the ANC a terrorist organisation… The Reagan & Thatcher administrations vetoing the imposition of UN economic sanctions on South Africa… the widespread belief that the ANC would never gain power… The South African government at the end of its bloody reign becoming increasingly paranoid about security and increasing its brutality… Anti-Apartheid support growing from the international community… the release of political prisoners… reforms… the dissolution of the oppressive government… universal suffrage.
Granted this is just a quick overview of a much more involved process, but it shows that it can be done. It’s time to make the mass imprisonment of the Palestinian people – the most imprisoned people in the world – a closed chapter, to be remembered as nothing short of ethnic cleansing. The Israeli government needs to be scrutinised, stopped and held accountable for these crimes against humanity.
All things considered, a day of me not eating isn’t particularly newsworthy. But hopefully it’s grabbed the attention of a handful of people, who hopefully will pass the word on.
Thanks for reading.
Sources & further reading:
Palestinian Prisoners: Over 750.000 Since 1967 & just 1 Israeli in Palestinian Captivity
Occupied Palestine Blog
Every Fourth Palestinian Under Arrest
The Free Gaza Movement
The Electronic Intifada
New Internationalist Magazine: Palestine
South Africa under Apartheid