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The world has forgotten the Palestinian prisoners

February 6, 2023 at 10:01 am

Demonstration of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons in Gaza, January 30, 2023. [Mustafa Hassona – Anadolu Agency]

The far-right, racist Israeli government coalition headed by Benjamin Netanyahu has used Khairy Alqam’s resistance operation in Jerusalem as a pretext to abuse and suppress the Palestinians even more, especially the younger people in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank. More than usual have been killed, arrested or thrown into prison.

Israel appears to be shaking in its boots at the thought of a third intifada, which could be on the way. Many Israeli analysts believe that it is imminent, with circumstances similar to those in the lead up to the outbreak of the Second (Al-Aqsa) Intifada in 2000, not least the provocative action by extremist Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir who went to Al-Aqsa Mosque, imitating Ariel Sharon’s similar provocation twenty-three years ago.

That’s why the terrorist government led by Netanyahu seeks to break the will of the Palestinian people through the security forces and fully-armed illegal settlers. Legislation is being politicised to target Palestinians. A draft bill was approved by the Knesset on 30 January to revoke Israeli citizenship and residency from Palestinian prisoners who are citizens and live in Israel and occupied Jerusalem if the authorities accuse them of carrying out operations against Israeli targets. They will be expelled to areas under Palestinian Authority control.

The issue of Palestinian prisoners is considered to be more of a threat than Gaza’s rockets and the resistance of the Qassam Brigades. They are the front line of the Palestinian national struggle. Moreover, Israeli Jews are already demonstrating in large numbers against the Netanyahu government. Actions against Israel’s Palestinian citizens are taken to divert attention from the broader dissent in the occupation state.

READ: Female Palestinian prisoners tortured, harassed by Israeli guards

The approved bill is expected to be enacted later. It is regarded as a racist move that is yet another example of Israel’s contempt for the law and for the Palestinians and their legitimate rights. The apartheid state can do this because it has unquestioned support from the West and those disgraceful Arab states which have normalised relations under the so-called Abraham Accords.

The most recent of these states was Sudan, which hosted the famous “Three No’s” Arab Summit in the wake of the June 1967 war: No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel. Now, under the transitional government headed by General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, we saw Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen visiting Khartoum to a warm welcome.

“We are building a new reality with the Sudanese, in which the ‘Three No’s’ will become the ‘Three Yesses’,” said Cohen on his return. “Yes, to negotiations between Israel and Sudan, yes to recognition of Israel and yes to peace between the states and between the peoples.” All of this encourages Israel’s human rights violations as it now has both Western and Arab political cover.

The new legislation about Palestinian prisoners is not unique in being openly discriminatory. In December 2018, for example, a law was passed which means that the occupation authorities cannot reduce Palestinian prisoners’ sentences. Those who have served two-thirds of their sentence cannot be granted parole and early release, unlike Jewish prisoners.

In June 2015, the government approved a law to allow the prison authorities to force-feed Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, which is both immoral and inhumane, and violates international and medical norms. Of course, Israel has never treated Palestinians with morality, a sense of shared humanity and respect for international norms.

A group of people, holding photos of Palestinian prisoners, gather outside the International Committee of the Red Cross building to support Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in Gaza City, Gaza on January 02, 2023. [Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency]

A group of people, holding photos of Palestinian prisoners, gather outside the International Committee of the Red Cross building to support Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in Gaza City, Gaza on January 02, 2023. [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

A month later, the Knesset approved a law allowing Palestinian children who throw stones to be sent to prison for up to ten years, even without proof of intent to cause harm. Israel deems stone-throwing to be a crime, and if intent to kill can be proven, it is punishable by a 20-year prison sentence.

All such laws are intended to break the will of the Palestinians, but that’s an impossible task which the Israelis have not yet understood. The Palestinians killed by Israeli attacks and thuggery will always be avenged by their families, even if it takes time to do so.

Israeli decision-makers appear to believe the Zionist myth that “The old will die and the young will forget.” The young don’t forget even though the old have died. They still know their land and want to liberate it from Israeli occupation. That’s the bitter reality as far as Israelis are concerned. Look at the case of Muhammad Aliwat, for example, who was just thirteen years old when he attacked Israeli settlers in occupied Jerusalem. He is from the fourth post-Nakba generation and carried the key to his grandfather’s house after his father. Each generation is entrusted and determined to liberate their country from the desecration of Zionist settler-colonialism.

READ: Israel jail crackdown sets up showdown with Palestinian prisoners

At least 230 Palestinians were killed by Israel last year, including 44 children. The UN called 2022 the most violent and bloody year against the Palestinians since 2005. From 1 January 2022 to the end of January this year, there were a recorded 417 resistance operations in Palestine, which resulted in the death of around 40 Israelis, with others wounded. Israeli analysts believe that the recent operation in Jerusalem, which was the most painful for them, may contribute to the deepening of conflicts within the most extreme coalition government in Israel’s history. Meanwhile, legitimate resistance continues against the army and illegal settlers.

The situation of the Palestinian prisoners remains one of the most important humanitarian, political and legal issues. Throughout Israel’s long occupation of Palestine, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been imprisoned with no international organisation to defend them, publicising their plight and demanding their release. The PA cannot be counted on to do this; it is too busy coordinating security with the occupation forces and is in many cases responsible for the arrest of detention of resistance fighters and activists. The Palestinian Authority is a Zionist collaborator. Sadly, for the Palestinian prisoners, almost every Western, and now Arab, government is as well. The world has forgotten the prisoners.

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