Why the silence? Hana Shalabi on day 40 of hunger strike as Israel rejects appeal

Palestinian women hold portrait of jailed compatriot Hana Shalabi, a female Palestinian prisoner jailed in Israel, outside the Red Cross building in Gaza City on March 26, 2012.

Mohammed Asad APA images

As Israeli officials defame and malign her on Twitter, Hana al-Shalabi lies critically ill and at risk of immediate death in Israeli detention on day 40 of her hunger strike.

On Sunday, Ma’an News Agency reported today, an Israeli military judge – an officer of the Israeli occupation forces who kidnapped her from her home on 16 February – rejected an appeal against al-Shalabi’s “administrative detention” without charge or trial:

Ofer military court on Sunday rejected a legal appeal for administrative detainee Hana Shalabi, a lawyer from the Prisoners Society said.

Jawad Bulus told Ma’an that a secretary from the Israeli military court informed him the judge rejected his appeal against Shalabi’s detention without trial.

The judge, after reviewing Shalabi’s case, said that there are grounds to continue holding her as she is a threat to Israel’s security.

What is the “threat” presented by Hana? Why won’t Israel charge her with any recognizable crime? Why did it previously hold her for two years, two years of harsh abuse, without ever charging her?

The fact is that Hana al-Shalabi is a victim of Israel’s Orwellian “administrative detention” – a routinely abused “emergency” provision which dates from British colonial days.

Today, Addameer and Physicians for Human Rights - Israel issued a joint statement saying that they were “dismayed that despite the grave nature of Hana Shalabi’s health condition, the Israeli Military Appeals Court rejected the appeal against Ms. Shalabi’s administrative detention order.”

Use of “administrative detention” on the rise

Rather than an exceptional measure, as Israel claims, detention without charge or trial is on the rise. In it’s latest call on Israel to release Hana al-Shalabi, Amnesty International points out that she is one of more than 300 Palestinians currently in Israeli “administrative detention” including more than 20 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council whose only “crime” is to have been elected.

Silence and solidarity

What will it take to get the media pundits – who constantly demand that Palestinians produce Gandhis – to pay heed to Hana al-Shalabi’s struggle?

Over these 40 long, agonizing days for her and her family, attention from international media has been sparse.

International officials – including the European Union’s ‘Foreign Minister’ Catherine Ashton – have remained silent. Even some prominent human rights groups, including B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch have totally ignored Hana al-Shalabi.

Yet through social media – at least – people are organizing and talking about their solidarity actions in Palestine and other countries.

Vigils have been held in support of Hana in London, Belfast, Derry and in Scotland (photos).

Chicago activists released a powerful video to educate others about Hana al-Shalabi.

But this noise is not enough. At 40 days, Hana is at the point where death could come at any moment. Consider what would make you, what would make any person, undertake something so destructive to the body as a hunger strike? How much strength of spirit must it take?

Hana is in this position because she has no other recourse. There is no “justice” in Israeli military justice. Her hunger is a call to the world.

“Cultivate Hope” a poem for Hana Shalabi written and recorded by Rafeef Ziadah

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Hana' we are with you during your suffering. God bless you and may you be free soon.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

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.