Israel exploits Toulouse murders to justify no-charge jailing of hunger striker Hana al-Shalabi

Badia al-Shalabi displays poster of her daughter

Badia al-Shalabi, mother of hunger striking prisoner Hana al-Shalabi.

Ayman Nobani APA images

What does the spokesman of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu do when his propaganda efforts fail to conceal Israel’s abuses of Palestinians? He uses the blood of Jewish children murdered in the French city of Toulouse last week to try to blot them out. This is low, even for Israeli official propaganda.

Since 16 February – when Israeli occupation forces violently seized her from her home in the West Bank village of Burqin – Hana al-Shalabi has been on hunger strike because she has no other way to resist the injustice Israel is inflicting on her and her family.

Now into her 38th day without food, and after severe deterioration in her health, doctors warn that she is at risk of “immediate death.”

Yet Hana al-Shalabi, who had already spent more than two years in Israeli jails without charge or trial, has still not been charged with any crime. During her current and previous detention she has faced severe abuse at the hands of Israeli authorities.

No wonder Amnesty Interational issued a statement yesterday reminding us that:

Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Israeli authorities to release Hana Shalabi and other Palestinians held in administrative detention, unless they are promptly charged with internationally recognizable criminal offences and tried in accordance with international fair trial standards.

Amnesty noted that Hana is one of “more than 300 Palestinians, including more than 20 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, [who] are currently being held in administrative detention.”

None of them have been charged with any crime – even under Israel’s military kangaroo court system.

Israeli official uses Toulouse murders to justify detention, mistreatment of Hana al-Shalabi

But today, Ofir Gendelman, one of Netanyahu’s official spokesmen tweeted, “#HanaShalabi is in custody because she planned to murder Jews, just like the murderer in #Toulouse. People who defend her:is this your hero?”

Just like that. Hana has not been charged with a crime, has no opportunity to defend herself, is near death, and yet Israel’s official propagandists accuse her of planning “murder” and compare her to Mohamed Merah the Frenchman who killed three paratroopers, and three children and an adult.

It is a sign that the global solidarity with Hana al-Shalabi and other political prisoners is making Israel desperate. Gendelman’s use of Merah’s crimes to justify Israel’s abuses of Hana al-Shalabi’s rights is exploitive, opportunistic and simply depraved.

Hiding behind children

Merah had reportedly said that his murder of the Jewish children in Toulouse was to avenge Israel’s frequent killings of Palestinian children. No decent person could ever accept this.

Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Knesset, put it best when he called the killings a “vile crime” and said “The Palestinian people do not need those who shoot children to protect them. Enough!”

Let us now hope that no one believes Gendelman’s claim that Israel’s massive and ruthless abuses of Palestinian rights are being carried out in the name of completely innocent Jewish children around the world.

If Israel had any evidence against Hana al-Shalabi why did it not charge her with a crime during the two years it held her from September 2009 to October 2011 (when she was released as part of the prisoner swap Israel negotiated with Hamas)? Why hasn’t it charged her now?

That’s the question that all of Gendelman’s inflammatory and cynical propaganda cannot hide.




They (Israel) are going to the bottom of the barrel in their desperate propaganda, not much further to fall I would expect?


I live in the Netherlands and the news here is that Merah apparently had stated during the showdown with the French police that his intentions were to kill even more French military people. Since they were not at the expected place he went to the neighbors so to speak and started his killing spree. Deranged or manipulated. But this is not a mini pogrom. And yes, Gindelman is depraved and unconscionable in his tweet. All the more as spokesman of a government. Shameless if not outright evil.


" Ofir Gendelman, one of Netanyahu’s official spokesmen tweeted, “#HanaShalabi is in custody because she planned to murder Jews, just like the murderer in #Toulouse. People who defend her:is this your hero?”
1. Gendelman is not merely claiming to be to read another's 'thoughts'....he's claiming she actually PLANNED to 'murder'. Under any civilized country's laws....and indeed UN Global be able to make that statement without it being mere rhetoric, implies EVIDENCE, which would culminate in a charge. WHY has she then NOT been ever charged with such a crime...which, in MY country, would be 'Conspiracy to commit murder'? The only viable answer is that they indeed HAVE NO EVIDENCE!
I was raised in a Christian home whose theological 'understanding' was that we were obligated to support Israel as 'God's People'. Sorry, but I've come to realize that it's merely a corrupt political system.
In my more cynical moments, I'm tempted to say..."A pox on ALL your houses". It's nothing more than ancient grievances erupting in tribal warfare, much like the ethnic groups in Iraq....or the tribal infighting in Afghanistan. Power corrupts....and absolute power corrupts absolutely!


Direct your cynicism at right target!This is not just an example of tribal or religious conflict. This persecution of palestinians is intentional political strategy of israel.


I have made representation to the Foreign Office and await responses. I have also made representation to the Israeli Embassy. I am told:-
I wrote to my MP urging him to do something about Hana Shalabi. Here was his reply:
"I have made representation to the Foreign Office and await responses. I have also made representation to the Israeli Embassy. I am told:-

1. This prisoner was arrested because she was suspected of being involved in terrorist activity again subsequent to her original release.
2. She has been moved to hospital but that she is refusing medical attention there.
I await further details."
I replied to him that if that is the case why have they not put her on trial and produce the evidence. I urged him again to do something - and await his response.

Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.