Peaceful resistance in the form of drawings and writings from Gaza, Palestine

Samer Issawi’s hunger is stronger than Israel’s savagery

A mural in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers has been painted opposite a protest tent at the International Committee of the Red Cross offices in Gaza.

A mural in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers has been painted opposite a protest tent at the International Committee of the Red Cross offices in Gaza.

Ayman Shrawna has suspended his 178-day hunger strike for ten days, as he has been promised by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) that it would review his case and release him by the beginning of next year. He is allowing himself to have only fluids, but has threatened to continue his strike if the IPS fails to fulfill its promises. This leaves Samer Issawi alone in this battle of empty stomachs, continuing his historic hunger strike that has lasted for 183 days.

While surfing on Facebook this week, I saw a video my best friend Loai Odeh had shared of the attack on Samer Issawi in an Israeli court. It made me feel sick and angry, but not shocked.

“Your humanity and determination is always stronger than their brutality and savagery,” Loai wrote to his friend Samer, whom he grew up with in Jerusalem, and with whom he shared a cell in Israeli jails and was released in the prisoner exchange deal last year. Loai had first thought that Samer was luckier than him to be able return to Jerusalem. By contrast, Loai was expelled to the Gaza Strip from his hometown, where every corner guards his and Samer’s precious childhood memories.

“I know how stubborn he is,” Loai told me when Samer was kidnapped by Israeli forces on 7 July and declared an open hunger strike to protest his re-arrest. “He will not break this hunger strike until he is set free, even if it costs him his life.”

Loai spoke beautifully to me about Samer many times, which made me feel spiritually close to him. “Samer is stronger than all these hardships.” Loai keeps repeating these words over and over again as he counts the days of Samer’s mounting hunger strike.

I remember when Loai called me last Sunday, December 16, saying that it was Samer’s birthday. “He is celebrating his birthday in hunger, in a cold dark cell,” he said after a few seconds of silence that interrupted our call.

“Keep being free,” Loai wrote as a birthday greeting to Samer. “Keep your head held high over their barbed wires and racist walls. You shall be among us, my comrade.”

Despite the grave conditions Samer suffered on his birthday and still suffers, he and all the Palestinian people still have something to celebrate: his indestructible will. He is armed with a determination that makes physical necessities like food meaningless. This steadfastness is more harmful to the Israeli military than any weapon. It drove them to attack him and his family, and to destroy sit-in tents erected in solidarity with him in Jerusalem, especially in his home village, Issawiyeh. We are all proud of Samer, who reminds us that our cause is just.

A photo posted on the Facebook page of Shireen, Samer Issawi’s sister.

A photo posted on the Facebook page of Shireen, Samer Issawi’s sister.

As I read Facebook status updatesby Shireen, Samer Issawi’s sister, her simple but powerful words moved me so much that I burst into tears. She vividly narrated how Samer and her family were attacked three days ago in the Israeli court, which she described as “racist.”

“Seven Israeli occupation soldiers savagely attacked Samer, ignoring his critical health condition and the fact that he was shackled to his wheelchair,” she wrote.

His family saw this brutality against Samer, and tried to protect him and prevent soldiers from beating him, but were dragged outside the court. Shireen wrote that the judge of the court was also there, watching idly. Instead of trying to do anything to end this brutality against a sick, shackled prisoner lingering at the edge of death, he ran out of the court. This judge and the IPS should be held accountable for their crimes against humanity.

Yesterday morning, I heard Samer’s mother speaking to Palestine Today TV live by telephone. She described how she saw her dying son being beaten. “All he did was try to shake hands with me,” she said. “This might have been the last chance for us to see, touch, or say goodbye to each other.” Her shaking, sorrowful tone still echoes in my ears.

She also described how Israeli soldiers raided their house in Jerusalem the same day, broke into Shireen’s room, and kidnapped her. Shireen has done nothing but try to give a voice to her brother. She has worked very hard organizing solidarity hunger strikes and protests. She has spoken to human rights organizations and international media, calling on people around the world to support her brother. But she is a threat to Israel because she is a strong voice of truth.

One of Shireen’s status updates reflected how she felt during the day she spent in an Israeli cell. “When they pushed me into that narrow, horribly dirty and cold isolation cell, I felt more spiritually united with my brother Samer,” she said. “I can’t put into words how proud I felt that my brother Samer can endure these hardships. He is a legend, as he remains resolved to continue his hunger strike despite all the difficult and painful circumstances he has endured.”

This cold weather makes the hunger strike a lot more difficult. The colder it gets, the more food the hunger striker needs. All our Palestinian political detainees suffer as the IPS refuses to supply them with winter clothes, sheets, and shoes, in attempt to break their will. Israel will never succeed. No matter how and to what extent the IPS oppresses our heroes, they will remain strong and defiant.

In Gaza, we have set up a  tent  to express solidarity with Samer Issawi, Ayman Shawana and all Palestinian political prisoners. Groups of people from different generations keep coming back and forth to the tent expressing their solidarity in different ways. Yesterday, I attended a poetry reading organized by the Islamic University of Gaza, featuring the Egyptian poet Hesham El-Jakh. I could see a group of students holding Samer Issawi’s posters while waving the Palestinian flags. Observing how our heroes inside Israeli jails unite the Palestinian people everywhere makes me proud and happy.

Don’t hesitate to do anything you can in support of Palestinian hunger strikers. Your silence gives the IPS impunity to continue its cruelty against our detainees, violating international humanitarian law. Your silence can lead to the killing of our heroes. Act now to end our hunger strikers’ suffering. We want our hero Samer Issawi to stay alive.

11 responses

  1. When the news broke about Ayman I shared a status in many groups my friend had posted :

    URGENT | The hero captive “Ayman Al-Sharawneh” informed his family in a telephone that he decided to suspend the open hunger strike for 10 days after getting promises from the Zionist prison administration to release him!

    An Israeli commented on the post in one group ” how is he a hero ”

    My reply was short, simple and to the point ” he was born a Palestinian ”

    When faced with an powerful entity that wishes to destroy a people, steal their land and culture, being born to that people the entity wishes to destroy makes you a hero from birth.

    Falastine Hurra !!!

    Like

    December 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    • Great response Robby! You’re a HERO as well! Thanks a lot for keeping this great work and dedicating your time for informing others about Palestine. Sending lots of love and respect for you!

      Like

      December 21, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      • Afwan saddeqti, In my veins flows the blood of the Irish rebel, straight to my Palestinian heart.

        Like

        December 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm

  2. Reblogged this on Occupied Palestine | فلسطين.

    Like

    December 21, 2012 at 10:50 pm

  3. abdullahtarsusi

    Her bilgi için ALLAH RAZI olsun…

    Like

    December 21, 2012 at 10:57 pm

  4. Reblogged this on a pretty ordinary place and commented:
    why it is important we understand how it really feels to live in Palestine and how this conflict is
    affecting real people

    Like

    December 26, 2012 at 11:51 pm

  5. just want to share here a letter I sent to each member of The Knesset on behalf of prior hunger striking prisoners, it could be changed and used to address Samer’s situation and the others presently on hunger strike. I went to The Knesset website and pulled up each individual email address of the members and individually sent this letter to each one of them.

    Is Amnesty involved in this case? They issued a press release in those prior cases and urged people to contact The Knesset and others, and my letter was patterned after their press release addressing the illegality of Israel’s administrative detentions.

    Yuval Steinitz
    Likud

    ysteinitz@knesset.gov.il

    Dear MK Yuval Steinitz,

    I am forwarding you an email I sent to PM Netanyahu yesterday morning, and I want to try to ensure all members of the Knesset know about these Palestinian prisoners under threat of imminent death. Two of the prisoners are today in day 70 of their hunger strikes. I know you do not want their deaths on your conscience. Thank you for considering their plight and anything you can do to help improve the situation.

    Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

    I am very concerned about the safety and welfare of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel under administrative detentions who are on hunger strikes, in particular six prisoners who have been identified by Amnesty International as facing imminent death, Bilal Diab and Tha’er Halahleh, who are today on Day 69 of their hunger strikes, Hassan Safadi, Omar Abu Shalal, Ja’afar Izz al-Din, and Mahmoud al-Sarsak.

    These administrative detentions Israel is holding Palestinian prisoners under, that include the six prisoners named above, violate international treaties Israel is bound to which internationally recognize rights to a fair trial for detainees and prisoners, to include the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    Evidence heard in secret, which provides neither the defendant nor his attorney being allowed to examine the evidence or challenge it, violates the requirements of international law that mandate fair legal proceedings and due process in detentions of prisoners. These detentions are war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    I urge you to ensure Israel abides by her obligations under international law and call on the Israeli authorities to release these six detainees in imminent danger of death, as well as all other Palestinians in administrative detention, unless they are promptly charged with internationally recognizable criminal offenses and brought to trial in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards.

    I urge you to ensure the immediate transfer of Tha’er Halahleh and other detainees on prolonged hunger strikes to a fully-equipped hospital so they can receive specialized medical care.

    I urge you to ensure that all detainees on hunger strike are allowed regular, private access to independent doctors, families and lawyers, treated humanely, and not punished in any way for their hunger strike.

    I urge you to end the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of administrative detainees, such as shackling detainees on prolonged hunger strike, that the human rights organizations and NGO’s are reporting Israel is engaging in.

    I urge you to ensure Israel abides by her obligations under international law and deals humanely with Palestinian prisoners she holds captive and in detention.

    Sincerely,

    Sherri Munnerlyn

    Like

    December 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm

  6. This is the letter I have drafted, describing 5 prisoners on hunger strikes addressed by Addameer in a document dated 12/18/2012, and I am going to start sending the emails this morning individually to each member of The Knesset and US Congress and the EU and President Obama..

    Hanna Swaid
    Hadash

    hswaid@knesset.gov.il

    Dear MK Hanna Swaid,

    I am forwarding you an email I am sending to PM Netanyahu this morning and also am planning to send to every member of the US Congress and the EU, and I want to try to ensure all members of the Knesset know about these Palestinian prisoners under threat of imminent death. I know you do not want their deaths on your conscience. Thank you for considering their plight and anything you can do to help improve the situation.

    Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

    I am very concerned about the safety and welfare of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel under administrative detentions who are on hunger strikes, in particular five prisoners who have been identified by Addameer as facing imminent death, Ayman Sharawna (182 days), Samer Issawi (151 days), Yousef Yassin (32 days), Jafar Azzidine (32 days) and Tarek Qa’adan (32 days),

    These administrative detentions Israel is holding Palestinian prisoners under, that include the five prisoners named above, violate international treaties Israel is bound to which internationally recognize rights to a fair trial for detainees and prisoners, to include the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    Evidence heard in secret, which provides neither the defendant nor his attorney being allowed to examine the evidence or challenge it, violates the requirements of international law that mandate fair legal proceedings and due process in detentions of prisoners. These detentions are war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    I urge you to ensure Israel abides by her obligations under international law and call on the Israeli authorities to release these five detainees in imminent danger of death, as well as all other Palestinians in administrative detention, unless they are promptly charged with internationally recognizable criminal offenses and brought to trial in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards.
    I urge you to ensure the immediate transfer of Ayman Sharawna and Samer Issawi and other detainees on prolonged hunger strikes to a fully-equipped hospital so they can receive specialized medical care.

    I urge you to ensure that all detainees on hunger strike are allowed regular, private access to independent doctors, families and lawyers, treated humanely, and not punished in any way for their hunger strike, as Samer Issiwa was recently, as he and his family were attacked and beaten by Occupying soldiers when he was transported for a court appearance.

    I urge you to end the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of administrative detainees, such as shackling detainees on prolonged hunger strike, that the human rights organizations and NGO’s are reporting Israel is engaging in.

    I urge you to ensure Israel abides by her obligations under international law and deals humanely with Palestinian prisoners she holds captive and in detention.

    Sincerely,

    Sherri Munnerlyn

    Like

    December 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm

  7. Hi, I started a discussion on a discussion board about Samer at the link below if anyone wants to joinn in that discussion.

    http://www.usmessageboard.com/israel-and-palestine/269754-save-samer-he-is-dying-samer-issawi-a-palestinian-hunger-striker.html

    And here is a link to another discussion I started addressing Israel’s attacks on children in Palestine that violate intl law, if anyone wants to join this discussion. I would really like to find more photos of children who have been attacked, a story with a picture becomes much more personal, I posted all of the photos of the children killed in the gallery of DCI Palestine, that was 255 photos of children Israel killed in her Occupation of Palestine.

    http://www.usmessageboard.com/israel-and-palestine/265408-the-children-of-palestine-israel-has-attacked-and-injured-and-killed-and-hurt.html

    Like

    January 2, 2013 at 10:59 am

  8. Pingback: MilanoInMovimento — La determinazione dei palestinesi più forte delle armi: una testimonianza da Gaza

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