Palestinians have achieved three consecutive victories in the past few months. In October last year, there was the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in an exchange deal involving the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Then there was a series of individual hunger strikes, which lasted unparalleled periods of time. These began with Khader Adnan, who went on hunger strike to protest against the Israeli policy of administrative detention (holding people in jail without charge, let alone a trial).
Manchester United legend Eric Cantona, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, UEFA President Michel Platini, renowned British film director Ken Loach and US intellectual Noam Chomsky are among international figures who have joined calls for Israel to release Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak. 25-year-old Sarsak is on hunger strike and close to death. A player with the Palestine national soccer team, he has been on hunger strike almost 90 days in protest at his imprisonment without charge or trial.
Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli prisons have called off a hunger strike after winning several key concessions from Israel. Solidarity protests have been staged in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, occupied Jerusalem, and Israel, and tens of thousands joined a rally in the town of Kafr Kana in the Galilee. Actions in solidarity with the hunger strikers have been organised around the world.
Six Palestinians on hunger strike against their illegal long-term detention without trial in Israeli jails were close to death on May 8, the International Committee of the Red Cross said that day. Two of the six, Tha’er Halahleh, 33, and Bilal Diab, 27, had, by May 12, been on hunger strike for 75 days. The other four prisoners had been on hunger strike for between 51 and 68 days on May 12.
Air France demanded to know the religion of a passenger on an April 15 flight from Nice to Tel Aviv and removed her because she was not Jewish. The incident, confirmed by an Air France official, may violate international and European law by subjecting prospective passengers to illegal religious discrimination. In recent days, Israeli authorities reacted to an effort by hundreds of European travellers to visit the occupied West Bank at the invitation of Palestinians by stationing hundreds of armed police and soldiers at the main international airport at Lydd.
Literature Nobel laureate and Germany's most famous living author Gunter Grass labelled Israel a threat to "already fragile world peace" in his poem “Was gesagt werden muss” (“What must be said”). The work, published by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on April 4, accuses "the West" of hypocrisy in relation to the arming of Israel. In publishing the poem, Grass, who regards himself as "irrevocably connected to the country of Israel” has made a big contribution to breaking a long standing German taboo about publicly criticising Israel's warmongering.
Hamza has memories that no 17-year-old should have. Last year, he was arrested in the middle of the night on suspicion that he threw stones at Israeli settlers near his school in the West Bank. He was handcuffed, blindfolded and beaten on the way to interrogation. “They asked me when did I throw stones, and how, what time exactly, at night or in the morning, and who was there with me,” he said. “When they took me to the prison they put me in a small cell. They used to throw the food through the space between the door and the floor.
A month after a Japanese distributor decided to stop carrying Ahava cosmetic products because of the company’s fraudulent practices and its profiteering from Israel's occupation, a major Norwegian retail chain announced it would also stop sales of Ahava products. Ahava products are made in the illegal West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, with resources taken from the Dead Sea in the West Bank. The cosmetics line profits that settlement and the settlement of Kalia, both of which are co-owners of Ahava.
The general membership of Carleton University’s Graduate Students’ Association voted overwhelmingly on March 21 and 22 in support of the Ottawa university divesting, via its pension fund, from companies complicit in the illegal military occupation of Palestine. The plebiscite question, which has provisionally passed by 72.6%, marks the first time in Canada, and what is believed to be the second time globally, that a student union has taken a position via a direct vote in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli violations of international law.