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International 'concern' over resistance to administrative detention

January 23, 2014 at 4:55 am

Administrative detention and the postponement of court hearings seem to go hand in hand with Israeli courts’ fabrication of justice. Samer Al Issawi and Ayman Al Sharawna have been once again shackled to their hunger strike, as deferrals pushed hearings to later dates, while solidarity with prisoners on hunger-strike reaches new heights, both in Palestine and abroad, largely due to a far reaching activist campaign. Human rights have otherwise been discarded by international bodies clamouring for adherence without promoting a concept of accountability.

A new hearing scheduled today has only intensified Al Issawi’s determination to continue his hunger strike. The court sentenced Al Issawi to eight months in prison starting from July 2012. However, a possible sentence under Article 168 concerning the cancelling of early release is still pending. Israeli military courts can impose the remainder of the prison sentence upon prisoners freed in the exchange deal of 2011. If this is upheld, Al Issawi faces up to twenty years in Israel’s military jails.

Palestinians mobilised themselves against Israeli contempt for the prisoners on hunger-strike by gathering in the vicinities of Ofer prison. Clashes ensued between protestors and the Israeli military deployed in the area, with Palestinians suffering injuries from rubber coated bullets and tear gas. The Free Samer Al Issawi Campaign stated that Sheikh Khader Adnan and Palestinian activist Abir Kopty have both been injured during today’s demonstrations.

The campaign has also called upon its followers to contact Military Judge Advocate General Brigadier Danny Efroni, as a form of protest in support of Al Issawi, Al Sharawna and other prisoners on hunger strike.

Creating the conditions which force Palestinian prisoners to appeal from administrative detention clearly exhibits a culture of injustice which only serves to entrench the Israeli occupation further. Israel’s arbitrary and vindictive use of administrative detention goes against international human rights law, yet the weakness of the international community has allowed it to establish an illegal framework in order to ensure the continued suppression of freedom and rights. The latest appeal rejections have offered a sharp contrast in reactions – the Israeli government’s supposed adherence to law, the international community’s ineffective condemnations, and global outrage as activists worldwide see the at the hypocrisy exhibited by Israel and international leaders.

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon is reported to have voiced concern over ‘the rapidly deteriorating condition’ of Palestinian prisoners on hunger-strike, following a letter by Mahmoud Abbas highlighting the severity of the prisoners’ condition. The hunger-strike was also discussed over the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with advice to prosecute or release the prisoners. Such rhetoric only intensifies the fact that the international community treats Israel with a particular deference, unworthy of a coloniser which has consistently sought to eliminate any decent semblance of living for the population under its occupation. International intervention with regard to Israel goes no further than insubstantial attempts at promoting a universal concern for welfare.

‘Concern’ is inadequate within this context and a ‘quick solution’ does not address the violations caused by Israel’s administrative detention of Palestinians. Al Issawi and Al Sharawna are at the moment personifying Palestinian non-violent resistance, and callous contempt on behalf of Israel has brought them close to death. Yet, without addressing the human rights violation of administrative detention, a recurrence with other prisoners taking the lead in effecting hunger-strikes is plausible. It is offensive to treat the hunger-strikes as a temporarily lengthy reaction – extreme measures are born out of a tangible experience which transforms despair into resistance, in this case Israel’s belligerent occupation and its illegal practice of administrative detention.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.