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22 Apr, 2017 12:15

Israeli activists 'thought it nice' to hold BBQ near Palestinian hunger strikers

Israeli activists 'thought it nice' to hold BBQ near Palestinian hunger strikers

There is a major civil rights catastrophe underway in Israel, with increasing human rights abuses being committed against Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are mere children, political commentator Mo Ansar told RT.

On Friday, Israel’s Border Police fired stun grenades at Palestinian protesters in Bethlehem, who had come out in support of thousands of Palestinian hunger-strikers in Israeli prisons.

Demonstrators were also calling on Israel to end the imprisonment of prisoners without trial. Amnesty International says at least 500 people are being held in administrative detention without charge or trial.

Earlier, activists from an Israeli right-wing movement had thrown a free barbecue outside a military prison in the West Bank, where Palestinian inmates are currently taking part in a mass hunger strike.

RT:  What do you make of the actions of the right-wing group that threw barbeques near the prisons? It makes the lives of the hunger-strikers more difficult, doesn’t it?

Mo Ansar: Yes it does. [Marwan] Barghouti, who has been in Israeli prisons for some 15 years, who triggered the hunger strike originally, said that “hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells.” And, in response to this, Israeli activists thought it would be nice and funny and clever to inflict more cruelty on these people who are starving to death in prisons by wafting smells and aromas, cooking in front of them, mocking them.  It is abhorrent. There is a major civil rights and human rights catastrophe in Israel with increasing human rights abuses against Palestinian prisoners.

Barghouti wrote an op-ed in the New York Times just recently where he talked about deaths, tortures, inhuman treatment, removal of family visitation rights; the fact that lawyers are unable to defend their clients. Let’s remember some of these clients are 10-, 12-, 14- year-old kids; kids who have been imprisoned for what? Throwing stones at tanks, throwing stones at armed military police? So there are major questions being asked by Amnesty [International] and others around the world about the increasing human rights violations against these Palestinian prisoners. We need a solution.

RT:  Do you think more pressure needs to be put on the Israeli authorities to improve conditions?

MA: I think conditions are going to have to improve. The difficulty we have is that we can’t take the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in isolation. When you look, for example, on treatment of Israel with Gaza, Gaza is effectively a 25-mile by four-mile strip of land [40 x 6.5km]; 1.6 million people are living there. It is an open refugee camp. Israel has a particularly harsh, some would go so far as calling it ethnic cleansing, which has been going on in Palestine over the last 60 years. Even prisoners who were due to be released after the Oslo Accords haven’t been released. We’ve got something like about 20-odd journalists that are in Israeli prisons at the minute. We had outrage when we had freedom of speech and press freedom being curtailed around the world.  We’ve had outrage when we’ve had prisoners who were journalists in Egypt and in other totalitarian states. So it is odd that we’re not seeing more of an outcry about journalists who are being imprisoned as part of this raft of human rights violations in Palestine.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.