Israel's broken promises and Palestinian hunger strikers' shattered hopes
The streets of Palestine were buzzing with celebrations.
Looks of genuine relief and excitement were seen on the faces of those celebrating, from Gaza to Nablus, making it feel as though the whole nation had just ended their hunger strike. Many of those celebrating were hungry themselves, as the victory had also fallen on the first day of Ramadan.
Palestinian prisoners began the 40-day Freedom and Dignity hunger strike on April 17, following Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi’s calls for prisoners to partake in a hunger strike until Israel agrees to give them their basic human rights.
An optimistic Barghouthi described the hunger strike as “a turning point in the relationship between prisoners and the mechanisms of prison administration” and that “from now on and after today, we will not allow any infringement upon the achievements and the rights of the prisoners.”
However, it seems as though Palestinians celebrated too soon. Despite the fact that the hunger strike had ended and a deal was struck, it is becoming increasingly evident that Israel has no intention on keeping its promise to the prisoners.
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A report by Bethlehem based news agency Ma’an News revealed that Israeli authorities had revoked Israeli entry permits for 37 family members of Palestinians prisoners who had participated in the hunger strike.
Shahinaz Dadou, 47, has a husband, Muhammad, who is serving a four-year, seven-month sentence in an Israeli prison. She has a permit that allows her to enter Israel twice a month for prison visitations.
She was about to leave on an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) bus, but before the bus left, an announcement was made that those whose imprisoned family members participated in the Freedom and Dignity hunger strike may be tuned away.
She thought she would try her luck regardless.
Dadou, and 37 others were denied entry – all because their imprisoned family members non-violently resisted the Israeli prison system for their basic rights.
While upsetting, this should not be a surprise. Days after the hunger strike ended, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) claimed to have never even reached an agreement in the first place, clearly showing where their intentions in fulfilling the demands of the hunger strikers lay early on.