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Palestinian women held in Israel’s prisons need support in the face of state aggression

December 23, 2021 at 1:40 pm

Palestinian women attend a protest in solidarity with female Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in Gaza city on December 22, 2021 [MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images]

Even as I write, the Israeli authorities are tormenting Palestinian women being held in Damon Prison by the occupation state. Israel is waging a brutal campaign against them, an extension of its policy of aggression and terrorism against the Palestinian people in occupied Jerusalem and its neighbourhoods who are threatened by displacement and illegal settlers, attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Judaisation of Muslim and Christian holy sites, and arrests across the West Bank.

It is also an extension of the ongoing Israeli siege against our people in the Gaza Strip, who face regular armed incursions by the so-called Israel “Defence” Forces, as well as massive military offensives. The Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip are deprived of the most basic rights to a decent life.

The attack launched by the Israeli Prison Service against female prisoners, in particular, is an attack on the dignity of the Palestinian people, because our women represent our honour and dignity. It is a cowardly attack and should be condemned by all reasonable people. It is part of a Zionist policy which mandates the abuse of male and female prisoners alike who continue to confront their Israeli jailers with strength and defiance.

READ: Israel prison administration assaults Palestinian female prisoners, monitoring group says

Forty Palestinian female prisoners from various cities in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and our land occupied since 1948 are icons of the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation. They are a strong shield held by the Palestinians in the battle for liberation and our legitimate right to return.

Conversely, Israel’s attack on our women reflects the moral weakness and defeatism that guides the occupation state and its government, in light of the heroic resistance of our people in the West Bank and Jerusalem against the occupation and its illegal settlers.

months in prison and fined her $1,528 - Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

Israeli military court sentenced 14-year-old Malak Al-Khatib to two months in prison and fined her $1,528 – Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]

The steadfastness of our people in the besieged Gaza Strip and their resistance has inflicted one defeat after another on the Israelis. The latest was in the Sword of Jerusalem battle in May, which illustrated Israel’s inability to impose itself on the resistance groups. That is one reason why the Zionist cowards are tormenting Palestinian women prisoners.

The Israelis beat our women, and torture them in defiance of international laws, conventions and humanitarian norms. We have a duty to demand international intervention from governments and human rights organisations to stop these Israeli violations against female prisoners.

What is required by the Palestinians is to step up to the mark of our national responsibility and work within a united national programme to confront the Israeli occupation and reject security coordination with those who attack us and abuse our women. The Oslo Accords have failed to achieve anything tangible for the Palestinians, and should be abandoned.

Such a national programme, based on resistance and adherence to the constants of our people, is the quickest way to end the Israeli occupation and achieve our aspirations, including the liberation of our land and the return of all Palestinians. This right is guaranteed under international law.

There is also a central role for the Palestinians in the diaspora. Solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners, especially our women, is essential. Their plight needs to be raised in international forums and exposed for the whole world to see.

READ: Palestinian girl follows in jailed father’s footsteps

Furthermore, the Arab and Muslim nations must take up their own pivotal role in the struggle to support the people of occupied Palestine, especially the prisoners held by Israel. Normalisation of links between Arab countries and the occupation state must be questioned and challenged. Projects which seek to make the state a natural entity in the region at the expense of legitimate Palestinian rights must be blocked.

International support is a great morale booster for the Palestinian prisoners. When they read about solidarity events, or see them on the TV news, their determination is strengthened. That is why whenever attacks on prisoners take place, the Israeli prison authorities remove televisions and radios from cell blocks, cutting off the connection with the outside world.

We have confidence that the Palestinian prisoners will be able to stand up to the latest Israeli attack, secure in the knowledge that they are being supported by a unified Palestinian, Arab and Muslim position in the struggle for their rights. That must be the case until they regain their freedom from Israel’s brutal military occupation.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 21 December 2021

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