Hunger striker’s release highlights plight of Palestinian prisoners

Hisham Abu Hawash (R), a Palestinian prisoner who was on a hunger strike in an Israeli prison, embraces his son upon his release in Hebron on February 24,2022. (AFP)
Hisham Abu Hawash (R), a Palestinian prisoner who was on a hunger strike in an Israeli prison, embraces his son upon his release in Hebron on February 24,2022. (AFP)
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Updated 26 February 2022

Hunger striker’s release highlights plight of Palestinian prisoners

Hisham Abu Hawash (R), a Palestinian prisoner who was on a hunger strike in an Israeli prison, embraces his son upon his release in Hebron on February 24,2022. (AFP)
  • Hisham Abu Hawash freed from Israeli detention — but hundreds more remain with agonizing wait for freedom

RAMALLAH: The joy of freed Palestinian prisoner Hisham Abu Hawash was matched only by the delight of his family and friends, as well as the hundreds worldwide who followed his 141-day hunger strike.

Abu Hawash was released on Feb. 24 after spending 16 months in Israeli detention.

The 40-year old construction worker from Dura, Hebron, was first arrested by Israeli forces on Oct. 27, 2020 and placed under a six-month administrative detention order.

Later, the order was arbitrarily extended to Feb. 27, 2022.

Israel released Abu Hawash at the end of his sentence amid growing Palestinian public anger, as well as criticism from international human rights organizations, the EU and UN.

However, Abu Hawash’s case is just one of many. Of the 4,500 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel, 540 are being detained without trial. Among them are 41 women and 140 children under 18.

Israeli prison authorities imposed strict punitive measures on Palestinian prisoners following the escape of six inmates from Gilboa prison in September 2021.

Qadoura Faris, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, told Arab News that inmates face daily problems caused by the prison administration, which is seeking to destroy their collective efforts over the years to improve living conditions in detention.

He said that this process follows an Israeli committee’s recommendation to “make the prisoners’ lives difficult.”

HIGHLIGHT

Israeli prison authorities imposed strict punitive measures on Palestinian prisoners following the escape of six inmates from Gilboa prison in September 2021.

Israel has arrested almost 1 million Palestinians since its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in 1967, Faris said.

“No sun has risen since the beginning of the Israeli occupation without daily arrests,” he added.

Detentions are part of a systematic plan to sap Palestinian communities’ will to resist and also to create fear, Faris said.

Despite the relative calm in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, human rights organizations say that even something as minor as a Facebook post can lead to arrests and a trial if Israeli authorities view it as incitement.

Israeli security targets Palestinians aged from 19 to 25 in order to deter them from protests and activism, while fines imposed on prisoners by Israeli courts swell the Israeli budget.

Meanwhile, the struggle of dozens of Palestinian prisoners continues from behind bars, even as dozens are enrolled with universities and are pursuing studies at all academic levels.

Some have contested legislative elections while serving time.

The education initiative was led by Marwan Barghouti, a senior Fatah leader serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for leading the second Palestinian intifada from 2000 to 2004.

While Palestinians consider those behind bars in Israel “freedom fighters,” many Israelis describe them as “terrorists,” saying they tried to kill Israelis and should die in prison.

The issue touches almost every family and neighborhood, and most Palestinians believe that the Palestinian Authority should make prisoners’ freedom a top priority.

Prisoners and their families hoped the election of US President Joe Biden would kick-start the Israel-Palestine peace process, and that prisoner releases would be a crucial issue in any negotiations.

However, as these hopes fade, it appears only an expected prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel can deliver freedom to those, including the infirm, women and children, who have spent more than 20 years behind bars.


UK charity boss calls Iran protesters ‘soldiers of Satan’

UK charity boss calls Iran protesters ‘soldiers of Satan’
Updated 20 sec ago

UK charity boss calls Iran protesters ‘soldiers of Satan’

UK charity boss calls Iran protesters ‘soldiers of Satan’
  • Islamic Centre of England boss condemned women for removing their hijabs

LONDON: The head of a British charity with links to Iran has slammed women resisting the regime’s rule as “soldiers of Satan,” condemning women who remove their hijabs as spreading “poison.”

Seyed Moosavi, the director of the Islamic Centre of England, said in a social media speech on Tuesday: “We do not expect any good from the soldiers of Satan, but we are the lovers of Allah. We try to protect our religion, to protect the truth.”

The center, which is funded by government authorities in Tehran, hosted the broadcast by Moosavi amid demonstrations against the Iranian regime following the death of Mahsa Amini, who died under suspicious circumstances after being arrested for “inappropriately” wearing the hijab.

The center, which is based in the prosperous Maida Vale district in northwest London, was the scene of protests from anti-regime Iranians as the fight against the ayatollahs spread from Iran to the diaspora around the world.

Moosavi, who is a personal representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said the bolstered laws on compulsory headdress were good and that the protestors were going “against the teaching of Islam.”

The Times of London reported that Kasra Aarabi, an Iran analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change who has contributed to Arab News features, uncovered the controversial sections of the speech in a tweet: “The UK govt must take action against the Islamic Centre of England. It’s clear the views propagated at the centre are a direct threat to British values & citizens. The centre should be shut-down & Khamenei’s representatives should be expelled.”

The mosque is part of a network of groups that analysts believe have close links to the regime. Britain’s charity regulator investigated the center in January 2020 after it described the slain Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Qassem Soleimani as a “martyr” during a vigil following his killing by a US drone strike.

The Times contacted the Islamic Centre of England for comment.

The Charity Commission told the British newspaper that Moosavi’s social media speech would be included in its review of the organization’s output. 

A spokeswoman said: “We are aware of a speech given by a trustee of the Islamic Centre of England. We have an ongoing regulatory compliance case into this charity to monitor whether it has addressed an official warning previously issued. We will be assessing this speech as part of this case.”


One dead, four hurt in Iraqi Kurdistan blast: statement

One dead, four hurt in Iraqi Kurdistan blast: statement
Updated 16 min 14 sec ago

One dead, four hurt in Iraqi Kurdistan blast: statement

One dead, four hurt in Iraqi Kurdistan blast: statement
  • Two women and two children were injured when the bomb exploded on Friday in the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region

IRBIL: One person was killed and four others, two women and two children, were injured when a bomb exploded Friday in the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, counter-terrorism forces said.
“An explosive device planted in a car detonated, leading to the death of the driver and the injury of... two women and two children,” a statement said, without elaborating on the victims’ identities or a motive for the attack.

Related


Mahsa Amini did not die from blows to body: Iranian coroner

Mahsa Amini did not die from blows to body: Iranian coroner
Updated 2 min 54 sec ago

Mahsa Amini did not die from blows to body: Iranian coroner

Mahsa Amini did not die from blows to body: Iranian coroner
  • Mahsa Amini died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police
  • Her death ignited more than two weeks of nationwide protests

DUBAI: An Iranian coroner’s report into the death of Mahsa Amini said she did not die due to blows to the head and limbs but from multiple organ failure caused by cerebral hypoxia, the official news agency IRNA reported on Friday.
The death of 22-year-old Amini while in the custody of Iran’s morality police has ignited more than two weeks of nationwide protests. Her father has said she suffered bruises to her legs, and has held the police responsible for her death.
The coroner’s report said her death was “not caused by blow to the head and limbs.” It did not say whether she had suffered any injuries. The report did say she fell while in custody due to “underlying diseases.”
“Due to the ineffective cardio-respiratory resuscitation in the first critical minutes, she suffered severe hypoxia and as a result brain damage.”


Iran denies security forces killed 16-year-old, says she fell off roof-Iranian media

Iran denies security forces killed 16-year-old, says she fell off roof-Iranian media
Updated 25 min 9 sec ago

Iran denies security forces killed 16-year-old, says she fell off roof-Iranian media

Iran denies security forces killed 16-year-old, says she fell off roof-Iranian media
  • Rights groups say more than 150 people have been killed
  • Women have played a prominent role, waving and burning headscarves

DUBAI: Iranian authorities have denied reports security forces killed a 16-year-old girl during protests ignited by the death of a woman in police custody, Iranian media reported on Friday, saying she committed suicide by falling off a roof.
Social media reports and rights group Amnesty International have said Sarina Esmaeilzadeh was killed by security forces when she was struck with batons on the head during protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody.
Authorities earlier this week gave a similar cause of death — falling off a roof — for 17-year-old Nika Shakarami, who activists say was killed in Tehran while demonstrating over Amini’s death.
Rights groups say more than 150 people have been killed, hundreds have been injured and thousands arrested in a crackdown on nationwide protests marking the biggest challenge to Iran’s clerical leadership in years.
Women have played a prominent role, waving and burning headscarves. High school girls have also taken part.
The chief justice of Alborz province where Esmaeilzadeh died said a preliminary investigation showed her death was caused by suicide from a fall from the roof of a five-story building, the semi-official ISNA news agency said.
Chief justice Hossein Fazeli Herikandi said claims in opposition media about her death were “lies.” “Based on her mother’s account, Esmaeilzadeh had a history of suicide attempts,” he said. Police received a report of her death on Sept. 24, he said.
Reuters could not reach her family for comment.
Amnesty International, in a Sept. 30 report, said she was one of at least 52 people killed by security forces between Sept. 19 and Sept. 25, saying Esmaeilzadeh “died after being severely beaten in the head with batons.”
A video showing Esmaeilzadeh smiling and listening to music has been viewed around 147,000 times on the widely-followed 1500tasvir Twitter account.
Amini was arrested on Sept. 13 in Tehran for “inappropriate attire.” The authorities have said she suffered a heart attack after being taken to a station to be “educated.”
Her family have denied she had any heart problems. Her father has said she had bruises on her legs, and holds police responsible for her death.
The government has ordered an investigation.
Earlier this week, state media said a judicial case had been opened into Shakarami’s death, citing officials claiming it had nothing to do with the unrest, and that she had fallen off a roof and her body contained no bullet wounds. Activists have said she was killed in Tehran while demonstrating.


Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera

Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera
Updated 52 min 12 sec ago

Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera

Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera
  • News comes almost a month after an outbreak of the illness in neighboring war-torn Syria
  • A cholera infection is caused by consuming food or water infected with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s health minister said on Friday that authorities are inspecting suspected cases of cholera, less than a day after the cash-strapped country confirmed its first case of the illness since 1993.
The news came almost a month after an outbreak of the illness in neighboring war-torn Syria.
Firas Abiad, Lebanon’s caretaker health minister, said in a press conference that the first case was a middle-aged Syrian refugee man living in the impoverished northern province of Akkar, and confirmed a second case in the area.
“There are several other suspected cases,” Abiad said. “Cholera is an illness that is easily transmissible.”
The developments take place as Lebanon's economy continues to spiral, plunging three-quarters of its population into poverty. Rampant power cuts, water shortages, and skyrocketing inflation have deteriorated living conditions for millions.
The Lebanese health minister added that the authorities have been working with the United Nations Children’s Fund and World Health Organization for weeks to ensure the cash-strapped country can respond to a possible outbreak, and expand testing capacities at hospitals and labs.
“We're making sure that there is safe water and a good sewage system,” Abiad said.
According to the WHO, a cholera infection is caused by consuming food or water infected with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria, and while most cases are mild to moderate, not treating the illness could lead to death.
About 1 million Syrian refugees who fled their country’s civil war reside in neighboring Lebanon. Most live in extreme poverty in tented settlements or in overcrowded apartments.
Poverty has also deepened for many Lebanese, with many families often rationing water, unable to afford private water tanks for drinking and domestic use.
The health minister said Lebanon has secured the necessary equipment and medicines to treat patients.
Richard Brennan, Regional Emergency Director of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region told The Associated Press Thursday that the organization has also been coordinating with other countries neighboring Syria to help respond to a possible outbreak.
However, he said vaccines are in short supply due to global demand.
The UN and Syria’s Health Ministry have said the source of the outbreak is likely linked to people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates River and using contaminated water to irrigate crops, resulting in food contamination.
Syria’s health services have suffered heavily from its years-long war, while much of the country is short on supplies to sanitize water.
Syrian health officials as of Wednesday documented at least 594 cases of cholera and 39 deaths. Meanwhile, in the rebel-held northwest of the country, health authorities documented 605 suspected cases, dozens of confirmed cases, and at least one death.