Socialist Worker

Bullying and posturing fail to stifle the resistance as Palestinian hunger strike ends

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2556

Solidarity protest in New York after the hunger strike won

Solidarity protest in New York after the hunger strike won (Pic: @jncatron/Twitter)


 

Palestinians in Israeli prisons declared victory last Saturday after ending a 40-day mass hunger strike.

More than 1,000 prisoners took part, and thousands of Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza marched in solidarity. Israeli soldiers responded by firing live ammunition and tear gas.

Conditions for Palestinians in Israeli prisons are cramped and overcrowded. Many prisoners are held under “administrative detention”, meaning they can be locked up without charge indefinitely.

Around 300 prisoners are children.

Prisoners say they won over 80 percent of their demands—including more visiting rights, better access to healthcare, and improved conditions for children. But the Israeli Prison Service says prisoners will only get a second family visit a month, paid for by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Red Cross.

The end of the hunger strike came after US president Donald Trump visited Israel last week.

He used the prospect of “peace” talks to bully PA president Mahmoud Abbas into clamping down harder on resistance.

Occupation

Trump also visited East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which have been under Israeli military occupation for 50 years.

He met Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Abbas, and repeated claims that both are “willing to reach for peace”.

Trump hopes to restart the sham “peace process” that co-opts the PA into complicity with the Israeli occupation in return for the promise of a Palestinian state.

That process broke down after Israel gave the PA nothing during years of “negotiations”.

Settlement

Now despite Trump’s assurances, Netanyahu is pushing ahead with plans to build a giant new Israeli settlement in the middle of the West Bank.

Donald Trump meets with Reuven Rivlin, president of Israel

Donald Trump meets with Reuven Rivlin, president of Israel (Pic: Government Press Office of Israel/WikiCommons)


He also held a meeting of Israeli ministers in East Jerusalem, which the PA claims as its capital, last week. It agreed to build a cable car from West Jerusalem to East Jerusalem, further tying the city to Israel.

Israeli media reported that Trump accused Abbas of “incitement” against Israel.

The hunger strike, led by prominent prisoners in Abbas’s faction Fatah, ended soon after.

The PA has also asked Israel to reduce electricity supplied to the Gaza Strip, which is governed by rival Palestinian resistance group Hamas.

This would worsen a humanitarian crisis in Gaza caused by ten years of siege and war.

But years of complicity with the occupation have made Abbas unpopular—and there is a widespread appetite for resistance to the occupation.


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