Yesterday, Tuesday 19th June 2012, we received the news that Mahmoud Sarsak, a professional footballer from Gaza held without charge or trial by Israel for the last three years, has ended his unprecedented 92 day hunger strike. His lawyer Muhammed Jabareen announced that Sarsak agreed to end his hunger after the Israel occupation authorities promised to release him on 10th July.
That the Israeli authorities no longer deem Sarsak a “threat” to their status quo of apartheid, colonisation and brutal military occupation is testament to the fact that Sarsak has never actually posed any military threat to the Israel occupation. His imprisonment without charge or trial was justidfied by Israel under the Unlawful Combatants Law, an internment law that applies only to Palestinians from Gaza, and that according to Addameer, the Palestinian Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Organisation, “contains fewer protections for detainees than even the few that are granted under administrative detention orders” the internement practice used by the occupation forces outside Gaza.
The fact that Sarsak has endured over three months without food will likely have a permanently debilitating effect on him physically and psychologically, and it is in this context that we should view Israel's pledge to release him: once a gifted footballer representing Palestine on the national stage, Israel has taken this symbol of Palestinian national aspirations, imprisoned him without charge, and forced him to risk his life so that he may achieve justice.
But this is not justice. This is a small victory for a heroic young man who is prepared to give his life for dignity, but whether or not Israel will maintain its promise to release him only time will tell. Any concessions on Israel's part are tactical moves aimed at preempting mass Palestinian protest, and there is no reason to except Israel to maintain its side of the deal. The details of the end to the hunger strike are still unknown and as people struggling for justice for the Palestinians, we must not let Israel feel any sense of relief.
One hunger strikers life has been saved, but Akram Rikhawi continues to face an imminent threat to his life on his 70th day of hunger strike, Samer Al-Barq is on his 31st day of renewed hunger strike, some 20 juvenils are have started an open ended hunger strike on June 12. Around 5000 Palestinians remain in Israeli jails, hundreds without charge or trial, and some after decades of imprisonment. This is another chapter in the struggle against Zionism and its system of apartheid, colonisation and occupation, but it must only add and strengthen the escalation of our resistance.
To all those who gave their time and energy in support of Mahmoud Sarsak, your work has contributed to saving a young man's life. Please continue to support the Palestinian hunger strikers.
From Israeli occupied Palestine, on Wednesday 20th June 2012, with gratitude and an unquenchable hunger for freedom.
Until all Israeli walls fall!
Until all Palestinian prisoners are released!
Until all Palestinian refugees return to their lands!