Several Palestinian prisoners
continue hunger striking for justice.
Footballer Mahmoud Sarsak declined food for 90 days and counting. He's
been detained uncharged for nearly three years. He demands release.
Israel Prison Service (IPS) officials don't care if he lives or dies.
Israel shows contempt for non-Jews. Institutionalized racism is policy.
So is cold-blooded persecution.
Thousands of Palestinian prisoners rot unjustly in gulag conditions.
Hundreds are uncharged. They can be held indefinitely with no possibility
Sarsak and others resist their only way possible.
On July 22, 2009, he was arrested at Gaza's Erez checkpoint. He headed
for a West Bank Balata refugee camp football match. He was taken to
Ashkelon Prison for weeks of interrogation.
On August 23, he was lawlessly detained under Israel's Unlawful Combatant
Law (UCL). Using it results in long-term indefinite detentions. Sarsak
was never charged or tried.
On March 19, he stopped eating in protest. His fundamental rights are
denied. He spent punishing time in solitary confinement. Supporters
worldwide demand his release.
FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, criticized his lawless detention. On June
12, FIFA.com headlined "Alleged illegal detainment of Palestinian football
Blatter "today expressed....grave concern and worry about" lawless Israeli
"The reports FIFA received state that in apparent violation of their
integrity and human rights and without the apparent right of a due process
(trial), several Palestine football players have allegedly been illegally
detained by Israeli authorities."
"In particular, the mentioned reports refer to the Palestine player
Mahmoud Sarsak, whose health is in a very delicate state due to the
fact that he has been undergoing a hunger strike for approximately 90
days in protest of his alleged illegal detention."
FIFA "urgently calls on IFA (Israel Football Association) to draw the
attention of the Israeli competent authorities to the present matter,
with the aim of ensuring the physical integrity of the concerned players
as well as their right for due process."
Sarsak plays for the Palestinian National Football Team. He's from southern
Gaza's Rafah refugee camp. He faces imminent death. He's gotten appalling
medical treatment. IPS officials won't transfer him to a civilian hospital
for proper care. He desperately needs it.
Palestinian Center for Human Rights Director Raji Sourani addressed
FIFA President Sepp Blatter, saying:
"We urge you to use all available means, including approaching the relevant
Israeli authorities, to save the life of Mr. Al-Sersek and help him
return again to the football pitch."
"Your voice will constitute a message of hope for the thousands around
the world who believe that sport, and football in particular, can contribute
to enhancing human dignity."
Amnesty International's Philip Luther said:
"After almost three years in detention, the Israeli authorities have
had ample opportunity to charge al-Sarsak with a recognizable criminal
offence and bring him to trial."
"They have failed to do so, and instead repeatedly affirmed his detention
order on the basis of secret information withheld from him and his lawyer."
"The specialized medical care al-Sarsak urgently needs is only available
in a civilian hospital and he must be admitted to one or released so
that he can receive it."
"Israel should repeal the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law, which
lacks minimal safeguards for detainees' rights."
Top European footballer Seville Frederic Kanoute and other players expressed
solidarity with Sarsak, saying:
"In the name of sporting solidarity, justice and human rights, we declare
our support for Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak. As European sportsmen,
we believe that every person has the right to a fair and independent
"In the name of civil liberties, justice, and basic human rights, we
call for the release of Mahmoud Sarsak."
Other supporters include Nicolas Anelka, Eric Cantona, FIFA's Sepp Blatter,
and FIFPro, the worldwide professional football players organization.
UK MP John Austin urged UEFA (The Union of European Football Associations)
to "reconsider its decision to hold its under-21 championship in Israel
On June 14, Sarsak agreed to ingest milk for a few days until Israel's
High Court reviewed his case. IPS policies are killing him.
On June 17, Haaretz contributor Amira Hass headlined "Israeli reservist
goes on hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinian prisoner," saying:
"Yaniv Mazor, a 31-year-old Jerusalem resident, was sentenced last week
to 20 days in jail over his refusal to fill any position, be it combat
or otherwise, in what he said was the occupying army."
"He was transferred to the IDF’s Tzrifin prison on Monday, launching
his hunger strike the following day."
"In a phone conversation with his attorney Michael Sfard on Friday,
Mazor said that he had 'become appalled over the last few months by
the hunger strike initiated by Palestinian administrative prisoners,
but I couldn’t do much about it.' "
He "decided to start a hunger strike in solidarity (with the Palestinians),
and in order to raise awareness on the issue of administrative detention,
and not to prompt (his) own release."
Numerous Israeli male and female current and former soldiers belong
to "Breaking the Silence."
They provide compelling testimonies about appalling IDF abuses. They
demand accountability not forthcoming.
Mazor is an IDF reservist. He's cut out of the same mold. Despite personal
risks, including prison time, he's more concerned about justice than
his own safety and well-being.
He also said he "regret(ted) not having been aware of what the army
does when (he) enlisted, because the more (he learned) the clearer (his)
understanding that" he no longer could support what he now rejects.
His decision left him "at peace with himself." What he saw explained
that he "no longer (could) be part of the army." He hoped he'd inspire
others facing active or reserve duty to resist and say no.
Mazor's friends learned of his prison isolation. As issue was refusing
to wear proper attire and address IPS commanders by their official ranks.
His automatic sentence shortening was cancelled. Reasons weren't given.
Mazor served in the IDF armor corps from 1999 - 2002. He was mostly
assigned to the Jordan Valley and West Bank.
He also performed reservist duty. He told journalist Hagar Matar that
Israel's occupation harshness weighed on him, saying:
"I arrived in the army as a typical product of the system." He thought
of himself as "a nice boy, serving in the territories, doing what he's
told. Without thinking. Mostly without thinking."
He also tried "grey insubordination." It means objecting privately.
After going abroad and returning, he no longer could "resume the facade
At first, he received a 15-day suspended sentence. After refusing to
serve, he was told "to go home and think."
He spent time with Breaking the Silence activists. His views hardened.
He refused orders in protest.
He was told to return to his base for sentencing and would continue
receiving military service orders.
IDF officials confirmed his trial and sentencing without further comment.
A May Haaretz editorial headlined "Submit to the strikers," saying:
No one know for sure how long anyone can survive without food. On average
they manage for two months or longer before expiring.
Haaretz called Palestinian strikers "the latest rock in the avalanche
of largely nonviolent flotillas, 'fly-ins,' and marches that Palestinians
and their supporters have organized, to great success, in the last several
Hunger strikes and other nonviolent initiatives "achieved a lot for
the Palestinian national struggle...."
They expose Israel's moral illegitimacy. They attract worldwide support.
They weaken and ultimately may contribute to Israel's eventual isolation.
They confirm what Breaking the Silence members say in describing "the
depth of corruption which is spreading in" Israel's military and society.
They demand accountability not forthcoming. They're tired of "feel(ing)
like an infantile kid with a magnifying glass looking at ants (and)
They deplore innocent civilians being persecuted for not being Jewish.
They refuse any longer to participate in human slaughter, wanton destruction,
dispossessing homeowners, and shooting to kill anyone who moves if ordered.
Israeli conscientious objectors, Refusniks, students and others feel
the same way. They won't be part of they call vile, corrupt and lawless.
They believe Israeli militarism and persecution must stop.
Mazor and growing numbers of others are cut out of the same mold. Their
courage deserves global support.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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