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Official 'concern' over Issawi's health

January 23, 2014 at 4:44 am

Despite Samer Issawi’s consistent refusal to bargain with Israeli authorities, the past days have been replete with offers of exile in return for ending the hunger-strike. According to Jawad Boulos, lawyer for the Palestinian Prisoner Society, Issawi has been constantly visited by Israeli negotiators at the Kaplan Medical Center, seeking to persuade him to be deported to a UN member country or the Gaza Strip, disregarding Issawi’s determination to continue the hunger strike ‘until freedom or death’. 

The urge to appear ‘concerned’ with humanitarian issues is not lacking in this sliver of Palestinian struggle. The UN and EU have once again approached Israel to discuss Issawi’s condition, with official rhetoric highlighting the lack of commitment towards human rights. According to Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, there is willingness to deport Issawi ‘to any EU member country, or any UN member country’. An EU spokesman denied the statement, declaring that ‘Israel has not formally approached the EU on this subject’. Israeli reiterated that the possibility of deportation ‘came up in official communications between officials on both sides’. It is evident that Issawi’s determination has not featured in any of these alleged discussions. Official ‘concern’ has yet to reach a depth which takes into consideration the conditions which have led Issawi to such extreme measures, namely administrative detention.

In focusing upon the immediate, which is Issawi’s deteriorating condition; officials have constructed a situation which is alien to reality. Primarily, failing to distinguish Issawi’s role within Palestinian history creates a new, and false, image of Issawi as a prisoner not affiliated to the resistance. His affiliation to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine has become an accessory to be used and flaunted according to circumstances which would portray Israel as ‘a victim of terror’. Official discourse is seeking to avoid the personal struggle for survival as part of the Palestinian resistance and collective memory, hence the distortion of the hunger-strike as a selfish endeavour in the face of viable alternatives to depict Israel as a benevolent state.

Discussing Issawi’s exile without consideration for the Palestinian struggle is convenient for authorities, who have avoided confrontation with Israel regarding the atrocities inflicted upon Palestinians in the name of ‘security’. Ignoring the fact that Israel’s occupation is based upon a commitment of violent oppression renders any discussion of concern about Palestinian individual human rights void. The UN and the EU have been very meticulous in assuring Israel’s violations would not feature in any discussion of Issawi’s hunger-strike against administrative detention, thus collaborating with Israel in effecting a deportation should be considered as complicity to furthering human rights violations in order to consolidate Israel’s illegal occupation.

Any collaboration between Israel and officials from the international community with regard to deportation is prohibited in international law, as Article 49(1) of the Fourth Geneva Convention states. ‘Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.’ If international officials deem this legislation valuable, diplomacy should be side-lined to allow justice to rise above its own illusion.

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