Palestinian hunger strikers losing audience, UAE paper
WAM Abu Dhabi, May 2nd, 2012 (WAM) -- Ever since Khader Adnan shone an international spotlight on Israel's harsh detention without trial of Palestinians, the Israeli government has feared his successful hunger strike would be copied by others. That has now happened, but the spotlight has faded, commented a UAE newspaper.
Yesterday marked two weeks since hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began a mass hunger strike, to protest at administrative detention and their prison conditions. Around 1,200 prisoners started the strike, with more joining them, bringing the number now to well over two thousand. At least two prisoners, Tha'er Halahleh and Bilal Diab, who had already been on hunger strike, are entering the dangerous period of more than 60 days without food.
Israel has reacted with characteristic harshness, confiscating personal belongings from the prisoners, denying them family visits and inflicting solitary confinement on the prisoners. The Israeli state has learned the lesson of Khader Adnan's hunger strike: non-violent dissent must be suppressed in case the world starts watching.
"Yet this time, the world has stopped watching. Aside from a flurry of interest at the start of the mass protest, the world's interest has faded", Abu Dhabi based English language newspaper "The National" wrote in its today's editorial.
This is a mistake, for the watching world and for the Palestinians. For years, watchers of the Israeli occupation have declared that Palestinians ought to use non-violent means to resist the encroachment of their land, only to find the world's media uninterested in such non-violence, the paper observed.
"Recall that the original Palestinian intifada, or uprising, was non-violent; gradually, non-violent methods were displaced. At each point in this long-running conflict, non-violent acts on the part of Palestinians and their supporters have been met with a brutal response. Even today, during the weekly non-violent protests in the Palestinian city of Bil'in, protestors are met with live bullets - and the silence of the world's media." Non-violent resistance needs an audience. As the Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Tamimi said: "They have military superiority but we have moral superiority." Without a watching world, the hunger strikers will continue to be harshly suppressed. By not offering the Palestinians an audience as they protest to reclaim their humanity, we are denying ours, the paper concluded.