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St. Paul protest demands freedom for Palestinian political prisoners

Justice for Arafat Jaradat, Samer Issawi and all Palestinian hunger strikers
By staff |
March 2, 2013
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St Paul protest backs Palestinian hunger strike.
St.Paul protest backs Palestinian hunger strike. (Fight Back! News/Eric Angell)

St. Paul, MN - On March 1, people of conscience gathered here during rush hour at a busy Saint Paul intersection, to show solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian political prisoners and to demand justice for Arafat Jaradat, who died Feb. 23 as a result of being tortured by Israeli security. Many passing cars honked in support of the protest.

Over 4000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launched hunger-strike action on Feb.24 to protest the death of 30-year old Arafat Jaradat. He was detained for throwing stones at an Israeli soldier. While detained, he was tortured to death, sustaining six broken bones in his spine, arms and legs; his lips lacerated; his face badly bruised.

Sabry Wazwaz of the Anti-War Committee said, “I am disgusted that the media in the U.S. never reports the murdering of Palestinian prisoners by Israel. Also Israel detains the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for long periods of time - months and sometimes years - without any charges. This is all against international law and inhumane. Israel has one of the worst human rights records of any country in the world and yet it receives billions of American tax dollars in aid every year.”

At the same time, the lives of several other Palestinian prisoners are in danger, as they have carried on a hunger strike for months, to protest their inhumane and illegal detainment in Israeli prisons. Samer Issawi has been on strike for nearly 220 days.

Issawi has detained by Israeli authorities without any charge whatsoever. He had been released from prison in October 2011 as a part of the Shalit prisoner swap, but was detained again without charge on July 7, 2012, and has been refusing food since August 2012 to protest his detention. He is in critical condition, losing his vision, vomiting blood and lapsing in and out of consciousness.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are striking in solidarity with the long term hunger strikers, and the prisoners’ actions have set off a wave of demonstrations in Palestine and around the world, protesting Israel’s unjust treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

Sophia Hansen-Day, a student and Macalester College said, "I stand in solidarity with the courageous Palestinian hunger strikers. The daring action taken by Samer Issawi, Ayman Sharawna, Tarek Qaadan, Jafar Ezzeldeen and countless others speaks to the deep desire for justice and self-determination among the Palestinian people. As a U.S. citizen complicit in Israeli state violence, I protest today to demand all Palestinian prisoners are released immediately!”

The vigil for Palestine is held every week at the intersection of Summit and Snelling Avenues, sponsored in part by the WAMM Middle East Committee. This week’s special call for solidarity with Palestinian prisoners was sponsored by the Anti-War Committee.