Yesterday, in case you missed it, was the 24 hour worldwide mass hunger strike for Samer Issawi. Sympathy hunger strikers collected in Italy, Egypt, America, Gaza and Jerusalem. I popped over to see how the London leg of the hunger strike was going in Trafalgar Square. When I arrived at 6pm there were about 10 demonstrators handing out leaflets which stated:
“Samer Al-Issawi, a Palestinian from occupied Jerusalem is incarcerated without charge. The political prisoner close to death was assaulted while handcuffed by Israeli police in Jerusalem on 18 December. Issawi is held without charge under the notorious administrative detention and is on hunger strike against it. Israel reneged in the Shalit prisoners deal when it rearrested Isawi (sic.) Samer’s brother was murdered in the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in 1994 by the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein, an American-Israeli Kach settler in occupied Hebron. Don’t let the Israeli state kill Samer.”
Issawi was released as part of the agreement where 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were exchanged for Israel’s Gilad Shalit. Issawi was then rearrested for allegedly defying the terms of his release that required him to remain in Jerusalem.
Issawi was originally sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2001 for shooting at Israeli soldiers entering his village of Isawiya, east Jerusalem. He is a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and he has now been on hunger strike since 1st August from when he has ingested only water and salt.
When I arrived in Trafalgar Square none of those demonstrating for Issawi were on hunger strike. It can’t be easy for some of them to give up their daily visit to the local bistro for a bowl of steamy mushroom soup with baguette and a glass of Merlot.
Some of the demonstrators wanted to chat with me, mostly telling me that I wasn’t welcome and that I wasn’t allowed to take photographs of their demonstration.
I did have a polite discussion with a 23 year old who had just finished studying accountancy. We talked about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Needless to say we disagreed on everything but he did tell me of his future plans.
He wanted to leave his family and head to Pakistan to start up a political party that would “bomb the whole of Israel”.
Here’s a clip of him reiterating his desire to bomb Israel. When I asked him what would happen to all the innocent Israelis if he bombed Israel he replied:
“Whoever is innocent there I will rescue them, so that Benjamin Netanyahu dies and people like you as well.”
This isn’t a surprising sentiment for a Palestine Solidarity Campaign activist as their hate for Israel’s supporters far surpasses any faux concern they claim to have for Palestinians, including Samer Issawi.
More photos from the protest: