Do Palestinian Women, Mothers Have Any Day to Celebrate?

Human Wrongs Watch 

By Abeer S. Abusaud* from Amman, March 20 – Most countries celebrated UN Women’s day on March 8, and many Arab countries are expected to celebrate the Mother’s Day on March 21 with flowers and gifts. This is not the case, however, for Palestinian women; nor it is for Palestinian mothers who loose a child everyday under Gaza siege or raids, and more discreetly under Israeli detention.

**Demonstrating for Hana

Palestinian prisoner Hana Shalaby –who has been on a hunger strike for 34 days now– was admitted on March 20 to hospital following a dramatic deterioration in her health.

Hana Shalaby (30 years), started her strike in protest against being re-arrested by the Israeli occupying forces following her release in October last year after spending more than two years in administrative detention.

She was re-arrested on 16 February 2012 and was issued a six-month administrative detention order on 23 February, but has not been charged. An Israeli Army spokesman commented that Shalabi was “a global jihad-affiliated operative” that “posed a threat to the area” and that she assaulted the soldiers who arrested her.

Detention … or Indefinite Imprisonment

Hana was released as part of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit-Palestinian prisoners’ exchange deal. She said she was subjected to an embarrassing body search by a male soldier when she was detained from her parents’ home. Her father Yehya said she was assaulted and their home was ransacked by Israeli soldiers.

The Israeli administrative detention regime is an arbitrary detention system, which is openly incompatible with international law– it is part of the collective punishment policy practiced by Israel against the Palestinian people; women, children and men… no distinction whatsoever.

Israel continues to detain and arrest Palestinians for years without trial and without issuing charges.

Israeli detention is considered a non humanitarian form of attrition for prisoners and their families. Most prisoners do not know if they will return to their normal life, ever leave jail, or if the next stop will be the cemetery, a fate which often happens inside Israeli jails.

In this context, with little humanitarian consideration –or none–, Hana continued her hunger strike, with the aim of achieving her immediate release and the punishment of the Israeli soldiers who assaulted her and beat her severely during her arrest and transfer to Salem military court in the northern West Bank.

Empty Intestines’ Weapon

With the rising number of Palestinian detainees on hunger strike in Israeli prisons –which totals 30–, detainees find that hunger strikes are their only weapon in this battle of wills.

Their hunger strikes are now known as the “weapon of empty intestines” – a weapon they resort to in the absence of any progress in negotiations that could lead to their release.

Qaddura Faris, head of the Palestinian Captives Society, told France Press that the detainees resort to the empty intestines’ weapon because they are facing increasing repression against them in the absence of any dialogue channel with the Israeli occupation.

Faris stressed that the detainees continue their hunger strikes to press for the abolition of administrative detention and isolation, and that some MP detainees go on hunger strike to protest their illegal detention as members of the Legislative Council.

A Major Hunger Strike in All Prisons

He made clear that there are extensive consultations between detainees in various Israeli prisons to announce a “Major hunger strike” in all prisons.

Israeli Prison Authority imposed restrictions on the detainees during detention of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier in Gaza from 2006 until last year, and there were news about the possibility of improving the situation of detainees following the release of Shalit … But none of that materialized.

Another detainee, Kifaah Hattab (52 years), started his hunger strike seeking to be treated as a prisoner of war since the beginning of March.

Even old people are not safe from Israeli detention. Ahmed Haj Ali is 80 years and he is on an indefinite hunger strike for the sixth day now (March 20) in a row in rejection of being arrested and detained.

Hana Shalaby … the Human Being

Hana Shalaby comes from the Northern West Bank village of Burkin in Jenin. She wasn’t the only person in her family to be arrested by the Israelis – her father and her sister were arrested too, and her brother Samier was killed by Israeli forces.

Such events helped shape Hana’s strong ambitious character, full of love for freedom and willing to sacrifice her life for that cause. Hana, like many other prisoners, is under administrative detention.

Palestinian Organizations Urge the International Community to Save Hana Shelby

According to Amman-based Petra News Agency, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and Al Mizan Center for Human Rights, have issued a joint statement calling on the international community to put pressure on Israel for the immediate release of Hana.

The statement noted that since Hana announced her hunger strike, Israeli prison authorities refused to respond to requests for her release.

The League of Arab States

In its statement on the occasion of International Women’s Day, “The Arab League called on the world, the international public opinion, and international and regional organizations and civil society organizations, human rights and women’s rights organizations to shoulder their responsibilities and take effective action to support the Palestinian people and Palestinian women in particular.”

The Arab League also called for putting pressure on Israel to release all prisoners, especially female prisoners and the elimination of administrative detention system which violates International law and all international humanitarian agreements and treaties.

More than 15,000 Palestinian Women Arrested

The statement said that since its occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, Israeli authorities arrested more than 15,000 Palestinian women.

Those female Palestinian detainees are subjected to beatings, humiliation, intimidation, cruel treatment and medical negligence.

They are treated in every manner that violates all principles of International agreements, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

Shall Humankind ever react?

Abeer S. Abusaud is a Communication and Marketing expert with more than 30 years experience in Communication, Mass Media, and Advertising. She studied Political Sciences at Cairo University and started her career in the English Service of Qatar Radio, Doha, where she authored the first English language book on Qatari women “Qatari Women Past and Present” published by Longman, U.K. 1984.  This article can be republished, sourcing and linking to: Human Wrongs Watch

Other articles by Abeer S. Abusaud: 

Syrians – From Assad’s Hell to Refugees’ Limbo

Jordan: No Return Ticket for Foreign Domestic Workers

Jordan: Rights Activists Against Governors “Absolute Power”

**image: demonstrating for releasing Hana | Source: Uprootedpalestinians

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‘Urgent Need to Further Protect Palestinian Children Against Israeli Violence’

UN Urges Israel ‘To Prevent Settler Attacks against Palestinian Villages’

Copyright ©2012 Human Wrongs Watch

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