Special Rapporteur Robert Falk of the United Nations, having completed a visit to jails where the Palestinians are held, said that Israel was not treating the hunger strikers in line with international standards. He said he was appalled at Israel’s continuing abuse of the human rights of their prisoners.
Falk cited two men in particular who had been refusing to eat for 63 days in protest at being detained without trial or even the hope of a trial, one for almost two years and the other since last August. Despite pressure from Israeli human rights groups, the prison authorities have refused to transfer the pair to a hospital. Both are reportedly close to death, taking only water.
This treatment of prisoners, most especially those who have been convicted of no crime whatsoever, is entirely unacceptable.
What is both so startling and depressing about this affair is that the international community seems so remarkably unaware of the plight of these luckless Palestinian prisoners, as they persevere with the brave and dangerous protest of their hunger strikes.
In part, it could be argued that they have chosen their moment badly. There is simply too much else happening in the Middle East, not least in Syria, for their predicament to merit much media attention.
However, now that the full details are emerging, both Washington and Brussels should take a lead in demanding that the Israelis live up to the values and responsibilities that they claim to hold so dear. It should be made clear to them, that if any of the hunger strikers dies, they will be held accountable.
Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (May 15)