I heard those words on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day (17 April) from a teacher, shocked at discovering how Israel abducts, abuses and imprisons Palestinian children — some as young as 12 — in the West Bank because they may or may not have thrown stones atIsrael’s wall.
Defence for Children International–Palestine Section, and until that moment had been unaware of the brutalities of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Horton’s lecture focused on a new DCI-Palestine report which documents the various traumas Palestinian children regularly face during Israeli military detention (“Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted: Children held in military detention,” 14 April 2012).
The answer to her question is fairly simple: this woman — a member of the educated, professional middle-classes — did not know because she relies on the mainstream media, led by theBBC, for her news. And that media’s silence on the realities of Israel’s occupation is deafening.
Last week, 1,200 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails began an open-ended hunger strike in protest at the illegalities and injustices of their incarceration. Another 2,300 refused food for the duration of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Their action came just weeks after Khader Adnan ended his 66-day hunger strike andHana al-Shalabi was released (though banished to Gaza) after refusing food for 43 days, both protesting at Israel’s use ofadministrative detention against them.
Several other prisoners remain on long-standing hunger strikes, including 27-year-old Bilal Diab and 34-year-old Thaer Halahleh, now into their second month without food.
Extraordinary feat of resistanceIf this extraordinary, mass feat of unarmed resistance, where more than a thousand men and women are willing to starve themselves to death in the struggle for liberation from an oppressive regime, was taking place in China or Iran — or any other country not behaving in the interests of the West — it would be receiving constant coverage in newspapers and on television. We would be presented with analysis, comment, talking heads, and we would know.
But these brave men and women are Palestinian, and the oppressive regime is Israel, and so the media’s curtain of self-censorship has been drawn.
Furious at this lack of coverage, Scottish activists from the We Are All Hana Shalabi Network occupied BBC Scotland headquarters on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day demanding reasons for the blackout (“Report on Glasgow’s BBC occupation and ‘Karamah hunger strike’ march,” We Are All Hana Shalabi Network, 18 April 2012). More