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On eve of historic anniversary, boycotts, hunger strikes, and repression continue

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As Palestinians commemorated the one-year anniversary of last year’s prisoner exchange and the end of a mass hunger strike, both on October 18, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association confirmed in a statement yesterday that Palestinian detainee Samer al-Barq had resumed his open hunger strike against an administrative detention order, after ending a previous 123-day strike on September 21.

Addameer is deeply concerned for the life of Palestinian administrative detainee Samer al-Barq, who resumed his hunger strike on 14 October 2012, after Israel failed to honor its agreement to deport him to Egypt.

The agreement was signed on 21 September 2012 between representatives of Egypt and Israel. Samer subsequently ceased his hunger strike on this date, having being told he would be transferred to Egypt the following day.

Samer, who is currently being held at Ramleh prison medical center, was recently visited by Addameer lawyer Fares Ziad, who reported that Samer has also stopped drinking water in protest at the failure of Israel to implement the agreement.

This latest strike will have be Samer’s third in less than seven months, with the previous strikes lasting 23 and 123 days respectively. The fact the Samer has begun refusing water will most likely lead to a rapid deterioration with his health.

(Photo: Joe Catron)

The statement also said that the organization was,

deeply concerned for the life of fellow hunger striker Ayman Sharawna, who today enters his 108th day of hunger strike. Ayman is also currently being held at Ramleh prison medical center. As previously reported there continues to be a serious deterioration in his health.

Ayman continues to suffer pain in his right leg, joints and kidneys. He also has developed skin problems and suffers from partial memory loss. His previous problems with his eyes persist and prison doctors have told him that there is a blockage in the veins connected to his eyes.

Since 14 October Ayman has stopped taking vitamins and currently only drinks hot water. He has said that for the moment he will continue drinking hot water and will soon stop taking sugar. If there is not immediate progress with his case he has vowed to cease taking any water altogether, which like Samer al-Barq is expected to lead to an even further deterioration in his health.

Ayman was re-arrested in January after being released in the prisoner exchange deal in October 2011. He is currently held without charge and the military committee has not yet reached a decision regarding whether or not Ayman will be returned to his prior sentence.

(Photo: Joe Catron)

On Saturday the Alternative Information Centre published an interview with the family of a third detainee, Samer Issawi, now on the 78th day of his hunger strike.

The Issawi family claims Israel imprisoned Samer for his political beliefs and not for criminal actions. Samer was arrested on 11 April 2002, during the Second Intifada, and sentenced to 26 years in prison. He was released nine years later in the October 2011 Prisoner Exchange Deal that swapped Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured in Gaza, for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

Samer’s reunion with his family was short-lived. On 7 July 2012, Samer was re-arrested at a checkpoint near the Adam settlement on his way from the village of Ram to Jerusalem. Samer’s family and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club say that Israel is reneging on the terms of the prisoner exchange by re-arresting Samer and seven other Palestinans released in the deal. In Samer’s case, Israel claims he defied the terms of his release that required him to remain in Jerusalem, which the family challenges. Samer’s family contests that they had not been sufficiently informed of Samer’s restricted movement and that he had in any event been in the Jerusalem municipality when detained …

Doctors have concluded that the Nafha prison where Samer is held is inadequate for responding to Samer’s deteriorating health and recommended transferring him to a clinic in Ramla, where prisoner Ayman Sharawna is being held …

Samer has communicated to his lawyer and family that he will maintain his strike until he is freed. Furthermore, Samer is refusing deportation from Palestine as part of a release settlement. Former prisoners including hunger striker and administrative detainee, Hana Shalabi, were deported to the Gaza Strip and Egypt instead of released, a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits forcible transfer of political detainees.

Only Shireen, Samer’s sister, has seen him since his re-arrest, and that during a court session on 1 September. “He is striking in order to come home,” says Shireen.

(Photo: Joe Catron)

Israel has responded to these activities with continued its repression. On Monday its troops raided the home of Addameer researcher Ayman Nasser before detaining him, an earlier statement from the organization said:

At 1:00am this morning a large number of Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) raided his home in the village of Safa, near Ramallah. The raid lasted about 1.5 hours, during which time IOF used sniffer dogs to search each room in the house and confiscated Ayman’s computer and mobile phone.

They also searched the computer of Ayman’s children and confiscated some pieces of it. Ayman’s wife was kept in a separate room during the raid with two Israeli soldiers pointing their weapons at her the entire time. At approximately 3:00am Ayman was taken away by IOF and is currently being held in Moskobiyyeh detention center in Jerusalem.

(Photo: Joe Catron)

Today Palestinian national football player and former hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak, who recently made headlines by refusing to attend an FC Barcelona “Clasico” match alongside Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, called on the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to withdraw its future tournaments from Israel.

I would like to offer my deepest, heartfelt gratitude to all those who spoke out against the inhumane treatment of Palestinians at a time when I and other hunger striking Palestinian political prisoners needed it most.

However, the arbitrary detention, abuse and torture of Palestinian political prisoners continue. Prisoner rights organisations have particular concerns about three who are on extended hunger strike – Samer Al-Barq, Hassan Safadi and Ayman Sharawna.

Israel works endlessly to repress Palestinian football, just like it does many other forms of Palestinian culture. Palestinian league player Mohammed Sadi Nemer and goalkeeper Omar Khaled Omar Abu Rowis were detained in February this year and remain in prison.

Football players Ayman Alkurd, Shadi Sbakhe and Wajeh Moshate, as well as over 1,400 other Palestinians in Gaza, were killed and the Rafah National Stadium was destroyed during Israel’s 2008-09 onslaught on Gaza.

Israel does not behave like a normal state where citizens can play sport freely. Why then, should it be granted the honour of hosting the UEFA U21s championship in 2013, or the women’s U19s in 2015? As stated in a letter from Gaza sports clubs to UEFA president Michel Platini, we must not “reward Israel for its violent repression of Palestinian rights”.

(Photo: Joe Catron)

Meanwhile Palestinians in Gaza launched a series of events marking tomorrow’s anniversaries, starting with a rally outside the International Committee of the Red Cross headquarters Monday after a weekly sit-in by detainees’ families.

(Photo: Joe Catron)
(Photo: Joe Catron)


Joe Catron

Joe Catron is a US activist in Gaza, Palestine, where he works with Palestinian groups and international solidarity networks, particularly in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and prisoners' movements. He co-edited The Prisoners' Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, an anthology of accounts by detainees freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange, blogs at and tweets at @jncatron.

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3 Responses

  1. Les on October 18, 2012, 1:00 pm

    Growing support from deformed Judaism to starve Gazans gives an idea of religious progress.

  2. annie on October 18, 2012, 2:48 pm

    they break their agreement to deport him to egypt and now they are arresting an Addameer researcher? they go back on their exchange agreement rearresting ex prisoners, on trumped up charges, capturing Samer at a checkpoint, which effectively traps any palestinian at the will of israel whenever they try to be mobile. it’s too gruesome how this octopus of an occupation has devoured palestine. how palestinians have lived in these conditions for decades is inconceivable.

    and the world goes on as if nothing is happening.

  3. DICKERSON3870 on October 19, 2012, 4:20 am

    RE: “Ayman was re-arrested in January after being released in the prisoner exchange deal in October 2011. He is currently held without charge and the military committee has not yet reached a decision regarding whether or not Ayman will be returned to his prior sentence.” ~ Addameer

    AYMAN’S PREDICAMENT IS A BIT LIKE THAT OF JOSEPH K IN “THE TRIAL” BY FRANZ KAFKA: After months of trial postponement, Joseph K goes to court painter Titorelli to ask for advice. He is told to hope for little. He might get definite acquittal, ostensible acquittal, or indefinite postponement. No one is ever really acquitted, but sometimes cases can be extended indefinitely.

    Titorelli: “You see, in definite acquittal, all the documents are annulled. But with ostensible acquittal, your whole dossier continues to circulate. Up to the higher courts, down to the lower ones, up again, down. These oscillations and peregrinations, you just can’t figure ‘em.”
    Joseph K: “No use in trying either, I suppose.”
    Titorelli: “Not a hope. Why, I’ve known cases of an acquitted man coming home from the court and finding the cops waiting there to arrest him all over again. But then, of course, theoretically it’s always possible to get another ostensible acquittal.”
    Joseph K: “The second acquittal wouldn’t be final either.”
    Titorelli: “It’s automatically followed by the third arrest. The third acquittal, by the fourth arrest. The fourth…”

    SOURCE –

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