Palestinian footballer fighting for his life is not a story, but Netanyahu’s football injury is

Israel/Palestine
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Mahmoud Al Sarsak poster
Mahmoud Al Sarsak poster

While news is scarce about the health condition of Palestinian footballer, Mahmoud Sarsak, who has been on an 88-day hunger strike, ironically there are numerous reports about the Israeli PM pulling a tendon during a staged football event for an upcoming travel documentary.

Middle East Online is reporting that Mahmoud Sarsak is now negotiating with the Israeli authorities who have agreed to his release.  The web news site claims that Sarsak is demanding that he be given a release date in writing.   Sarsak is said to have previously rejected a proposal of exile to Norway.

Earlier AFP reported that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) announced today that Sarsak had ended his hunger strike, but gave no further details.   The prisoner’s family in Gaza reacted to the report by denying that the footballer had agreed to end his fast.

Mahmoud Sarsak was been incarcerated by Israel for nearly three years as an “unlawful combatant.”  He has never been charged with a crime, given any indication when he may be released, or been offered any avenue of legal redress. 

There seems to be a complete blackout in the Israeli press concerning Sarsak’s situation, in contrast to the considerable news coverage of other recent hunger strikers who had reached a life- threatening point in their protests.  Numerous Palestinian officials have expressed fear that the death of a prisoner on a hunger strike would lead to violent protests.  

In a bizarre juxtaposition, the Israeli press reported today that PM Netanyahu, who is now in a cast, pulled a tendon while playing football with young students.  He heroically, it was dutifully reported, shook off the injury and scored a goal. 

Bibi’s minor injury is a big news story in Israel while the fate of Sarsak, who is considered a hero among many Palestinians, is ignored.  Maybe the Israelis have simply decided that information about their treatment of Palestinian political prisoners is simply bad news.

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