Ten Years ago, the World was watching how the people who searched sanctuary in the Bethlehem basilica and found themselves trapped there with the religious, nuns and friars who refused to leave for weeks in solidarity and to fulfill their mission of take care of the Christian Holy Sites in Israel and Palestine, began to go out one by one with the company of the Franciscan Guardian to the point where they were taken by the Israelis. Most of them kissed the soil before because all of them are going to the exile or transfer to Gaza. No one could stay at Bethlehem. They were exhausted, hungry and filthy after 40 days of a hard siege, without food, water, forced to be lock in with the decomposing corpses of the dead by the israeli snipers positioned around the Manger Square, corpses of militants and of monks and workers “mistaken” with militants just because they were too close to the windows or adventured to the garden to pick up some grass to eat. There were days of bitter violence in the city that Christians around the World identify with the coming of Peace, because all that was happening in the same site where we believe Christ was born. I remember all that scenes too well. I remember them the Franciscan Guardian embracing the prisoners and some of the soldiers (“peace and good” is their motto for all the human beings, friends and enemies), after living the siege like the others, and I still remembering all Christmas Eves when I sing “Holly Night….” in front of the Manger at home.
Well, some of that Palestinians who emerged from the Church of the Nativity on Manger Square that may 10th 2002, the “not so dangerous” for the Israelis, have been told they were going to Gaza for three years and then they will come back. But ten years after that they still in Gaza. I have read in Shahd Abusalama’s Blog “Palestine from my eyes” how they were joining the pacific protests in Gaza in solidarity with the hunger strikers against the imprisonment of Palestinians without charges or right to a judgment, a strike that has six of the prisoners in a verge of death. Some of this prisoners without charges, called “administrative prisoners” can be in this situation up to 10 years, with no known accusations, no way to defend themselves and no hope to go out of prison. There are about 1.600 prisoners in hunger strikes in israeli prisons now, and more people free also in hunger strike in solidarity that use to gather in a tent established in Gaza. Is a morning tent according to the muslim uses. No one is dead yet for this strikes, but may be soon. The deported from Bethlehem have also the solidarity of the strikers.
“Hundreds of Palestinians marched in solidarity with the 2002 deportees from the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. May 10 marks the eleventh anniversary of their exile. They were promised that they would be allowed to return after two or three years of deportation, after 10 years, they’re still refugees in the Gaza Strip. Deportation is a terrible violation of Geneva Convention IV and a form of ethnic cleansing that Israel continues to use against Palestinian people. Recently, administrative detainee Hana’ Shalabi was deported to Gaza and promised she could return to Jenin after 3 years of exile, but who knows if she’ll ever be allowed back or forced into exile forever?”, says Shahd, a young woman who tells how is the live day a day in Gaza.
The International Red Cross says that a total of six prisoners are at “imminent risk of dying” and has urged Israel to transfer them to civilian hospitals, says the Los Angeles Times.The two most serious cases are Thaer Halahleh, 33, of Hebron, who was arrested in June 2010, and Bilal Diab, 27, of Jenin, who was arrested in August 2011. Both are being held in administrative detention.
There have been petitions in Court to release them because of their health situation, but the courts said no. But if they die in jail, it can prompt protests too much serious the ones going on now.
For now, the pacific protests are not very known by the public opinion, more aware of the violent protests or the acts of terrorism in the past on the Palestinian side. This kind of news are more difficult to jump the borders. And in this case, an others before, are pretty massive, with 1.600 strikers in jails. A real problem.
Leaving in Spain, I could but remember another hunger strike, the one sustained by a terrorist from the group named ETA, Iñaki de Juana Chaos, convicted for the killing of 25 people and many more wounded. He had a sentence of 3.000 years of prison that, because of the Spanish judicial system become immediately 30, the maxim condemn possible. But because of penitentiary benefits in 18 years was free. Then he was accused of threatening and planning terrorism because some writings and condemned again and he started a hunger strike. His situation gained the attention of the Times of London and after that because of the international public opinion stress, the government and judges decided to send him to a hospital in his city, without much security and then let him go out of the hospital with his girlfriend and finally he escaped. This one was convicted, charged, judged, and found guilty, but because of fear of the pubic opinion a hunger strike less radical than this one in Palestine gave him everything. The ones in Palestine can be up to 10 years in jail without charges and nobody reacts properly . If somebody says something then there is no way that it will be some fear for the public opinion in Israel. Please, folks, the makers of public opinion that matters in the world is with them. Only in this new free space there is a different voice, but the rulers of the World don’t pay too much attention yet. They appears to live in the world of the manipulation of the public opinion and not in the world of the listening at the public forums. A big mistake, I think.
- U.N.’s Ban calls for solution for Palestinian hunger strikers (jta.org)
- After ten years, Israel to release Palestinian prisoner from solitary confinement (haaretz.com)
- Fears grow for health of Palestinian hunger strikers (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Palestinians Rally Around Prisoners On Hunger Strike (wnyc.org)
- Photo Essay ~~ April in Palestine (desertpeace.wordpress.com)