Palestinian prisoners to refuse medicine as boycott escalates

Palestinian prisoners have decided not to take medicine as part of an escalating protest.

As well as boycotting Israeli military courts, detainees will now refuse health care until their demands are met.

Detainees will also begin a wave of hunger strikes in the coming months.

The boycott of military courts started on 15 February. Some human rights activists and lawyers are supporting the prisoners’ action by refusing to cooperate with Israel’s military court system.

Prisoners said the boycott will last until Israel ends its practice of administrative detention – the imprisonment of Palestinians without charge or trial that can be renewed indefinitely.

Israeli occupation forces threatened and beat detainees in an attempt to pressure them to end the boycott mid-April. Israel also threatened lawyers with punishment, including financial penalties, for complying with the boycott.

Israel has arrested more than 800,000 Palestinians and issued more than 52,000 administrative detention orders since 1967.

Israel’s war on the Tamimi family

Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces have arrested yet another member of the Tamimi family.

Waed Tamimi, 21, was taken by the Israeli army from his home in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh during an early morning raid last week.

After Israeli soldiers beat and bruised Waed, he was taken to hospital, his father Bassem wrote in a Facebook post.

Waed is the brother of 17-year-old prisoner Ahed Tamimi, who has been jailed by occupation authorities for shoving and slapping heavily armed occupation soldiers in December, hours after the army shot her 15-year-old cousin Muhammad Fadel Tamimi in the face.

Ahed and Waed’s mother Nariman was also arrested in December for filming her daughter’s interaction with the soldiers and broadcasting it on the Internet.

Now, the two siblings and their mother Nariman are detained by Israel.

Their father Bassem Tamimi argued that the Israeli army is seeking to break the will of the Tamimi family.

“On a morning heavy with longing for Ahed and Nariman, the occupation forces stormed my house and arrested Waed,” Bassem wrote in a Facebook post.

Ahed and Nariman were sentenced to eight months in prison in March, including time served.

Celebrating an extrajudicial executioner

Meanwhile, the Israeli army medic Elor Azarya was released from prison on 8 May after serving nine months for the point blank execution of an incapacitated Palestinian, Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, on a Hebron street in 2016.

The army medic’s original 18-month sentence was shortened a couple of times. He was also released two days early to attend his brother’s wedding.

The chief prosecutor in the case stated that Azarya had shown no remorse and taken no responsibility for his actions but posed no danger to the public, according to the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz.

Al-Sharif’s family remarked that “the soldier had received a more lenient sentence than a Palestinian child would receive for throwing stones,” according to Ma’an News Agency.

Human rights group Al-Haq stated that the extrajudicial execution was “an implementation of Israel’s shoot to kill policy and amounts to willful killing.”

The group added that the International Criminal Court must quickly “open an investigation into Israel’s continued violations of international humanitarian law, amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Hero’s welcome

Azarya was given a hero’s welcome in Ramle – a city in present-day Israel – on his release. Israeli flags were flown, alongside banners that read, “It’s so good to have you home, the soldier of us all,” and “Welcome home, Elor the hero,” according to Haaretz.

Ramle’s mayor Michael Vidal also visited Azarya’s family home.

This video shows Azarya’s family and supporters rejoicing in Ramle.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also celebrated the release, stating he was “glad it’s done with.”

Other lawmakers called for the erasure of Azarya’s criminal record.

Israel Katz, the transport minister, wrote on Twitter: “It was time for Elor to go home to his family and friends. I appeal to President Reuven Rivlin to act now to delete Elor’s criminal record so that he can integrate into civilian life and get on with his life,” he wrote, according to The Times of Israel.

Israel’s culture minister Miri Regev, a far-right Israeli politician notorious for her racism against Palestinians and Africans, also cheered Azarya’s release and personally called the family to congratulate them.

“I heard the sounds of joy coming from the home and I was excited for them,” she tweeted. “There remains just one more objective: to wipe Elor’s criminal record.”

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s economy minister, also tweeted in celebration of Azarya’s release.

Ahed Tamimi is likely to spend roughly the same amount of time in prison as Azarya did.

The difference is that Azarya carried out an extrajudicial execution on a wounded Palestinian, while Ahed slapped an Israeli soldier who was taking part in the occupation of her village.

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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.