Maher Al-Akhras Hunger Strike Now Exceeds 90 Days!

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Palestinians demonstrate in support of Maher Al-Akhras, on hunger strike in an Israeli prison

‘CALLING for the freedom of one Palestinian political prisoner is what Israel expects from the international community.

‘The latest detainee to go on hunger strike protesting against the administrative detention order that keeps him in prison indefinitely with neither formal charges nor trial is Maher Al-Akhras.

‘His protest has now exceeded 90 days and he is in a frail condition.

‘Cue the UN’s “concern” for human rights while simultaneously disregarding the Israeli colonial violence that has imprisoned thousands of Palestinians merely for exercising their right to anti-colonial resistance.

‘Al-Akhras was arrested on 27 July and placed under a renewable administrative detention order in August, supposedly for being a member of Islamic Jihad.

‘He was subjected to the same ordeal in 2009 with an administration order for 16 months, and also in 2018 for a duration of 11 months.

‘Three other Palestinian prisoners have started their own hunger strikes in solidarity with Al-Akhras; their predicament is not yet dire enough to warrant media attention, or UN statements for that matter, because the lives of Palestinian prisoners within the international context are only relevant in terms of how near they are to death.

‘In a statement about Al-Akhras’s deteriorating health, the UN’s Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk condemned the concept of administrative detention as “an anathema in any democratic society that follows the rule of law.”

‘Israeli security forces, Lynk said, “have not provided any persuasive evidence in an open hearing to justify its allegation that he (al-Akhras) is a security threat.”

‘The UN knows that Israel justifies its actions through its “security” and “self-defence” narrative without the burden of having to actually prove that any security threat exists.

‘Administrative detention is arguably one of the practices that most defines Israel and what it stands for: the perpetuation of oppressive violence in which Palestinians have no rights and any recognition of such violations from the international community requires media depictions of a Palestinian prisoner on the brink of death.

‘In other words, unless the media sensationalises hunger strikes, the UN – the purported guardian of human rights – feels no responsibility to act.

‘Presumably, this is because the international community is used to seeing dead or dying Palestinians, and disrupting such normalised violence does not bode well in terms of the institution’s maintenance of violations to retain its relevance.

‘Away from the current context, Israel’s administrative detention practices are of no concern to the international community, just as the Palestinian prisoners do not attract attention unless they are transformed by media narratives as a hunger striker and therefore worthy of publicity.

‘Who remembers Samer Issawi now?

‘Once transformed into an icon of resistance only to be forgotten once released because his name no longer served any media function.

‘The truth is that Palestinian hunger strikers are fodder for exploitation and when their purpose is served, their identity is lost among the statistics.

‘Sensationalism over hunger strikes is shifting attention away from the reality of administrative detention through which Israel keeps Palestinian political prisoners behind bars.

‘With each repetitive occurrence, activism is being trapped in the illusion of victory.

‘If Al-Akhras is released, it must not be paraded as a victory until the occupation’s unjust prison system is no longer functioning alongside the militarised surveillance forced upon the Palestinians.’

End of Wadi article

IN TEL AVIV on Sunday, November 1st, thousands of Israelis demonstrated outside the official residence of the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, calling on him to step down over long-running criminal corruption charges and mishandling of the coronavirus crisis.

Protesters waved Israeli and pink flags, which have become a symbol of the protest movement, as they marched through Jerusalem toward a square near Netanyahu’s official residence.

Smaller demonstrations also took place elsewhere across the country.

In recent weeks, the protests were reduced due to a month-long lockdown that allowed gatherings only within one kilometre from people’s homes.

But last week, restrictions were lifted and the mass protests resumed, mainly in occupied Jerusalem.

For almost five months, thousands of Israelis have been demanding Netanyahu must step down, saying he is unfit to lead Israel while he is on trial for corruption charges.

Meanwhile, early yesterday morning Israeli forces demolished a house in the village of Rujeib, to the east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, after alleging that the house owner had killed an Israeli.

Mufeed Dweikat, head of the Rujeib village council, said that a large military unit of Israeli soldiers accompanied by a bulldozer raided the village in the early morning hours and proceeded to demolish the two-story house of Khalil Dweikat, noting that the Israeli authorities issued the demolition order back in August.

The soldiers forced the Dweikat family out of the house and left them in an open area on a rainy and cold night.

The village mayor said clashes erupted between youths and the Israeli forces resulting in one youth getting shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet while others suffered from suffocation due to inhaling tear gas fired at them by the soldiers.

Khalil Dweikat was arrested and charged with killing an Israeli man in the town of Petah Tiqwa in August.

Israel demolishes homes of Palestinians who they accuse of killing Israelis as a collective punishment policy against the entire family.

This policy does not apply to Israelis who kill Palestinians in terror acts.

On Sunday night, Israeli occupation forces detained four Palestinians in raids on the occupied West Bank districts of Hebron and Bethlehem, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS).

In Ramallah district, the occupation army broke into the town of Birzeit and the neighbouring village of Kobar, where they detained three Palestinians after raiding and searching their homes.

In Hebron district, south of the West Bank, the occupation forces stormed the town of Dura and detained a 45-year-old Palestinian man, after raiding his home and destroying some of its contents.

Clashes erupted in the town following the Israeli raid, during which the soldiers fired teargas and stun grenades at local civilians causing many cases of suffocation from gas inhalation.

Israeli occupation authorities have announced their intention to bulldoze a bypass road in the village of Asira al Qibliya to the south of Nablus, the occupied West Bank.

Speaking on Sunday local activist Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors colonial settlement activities in the northern West Bank, said that Israeli forces issued a notice they will bulldoze a bypass road in the village of Asira al Qibliya, which is used by Palestinian farmers to access their land.

Also on Sunday, Israeli settlers stole dozens of saplings from inside a plant nursery in the village of As-Sawiya to the south of Nablus, in the occupied northern West Bank.

Ghassan Daghlas said that a group of settlers raided the nursery on the Nablus-Ramallah road, where they wreaked havoc and stole dozens of saplings belonging to local resident Mohammed al-Khateeb.

He said that settlers had targeted the nursery more than once, especially in the pre-morning hours, noting that the security cameras recorded the theft.