Palestine

Strikes, soccer and sanctions: an interview with Mahmoud Sarsak

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Mahmoud Sarsak is a professional footballer who was arrested in 2009 and imprisoned in Israel for three years without charge. In April 2012 he joined the coordinated hunger strikes by Palestinian political prisoners. Riya Al'Sanah and Estelle Cooch interviewed him for Socialist Review.


Can you explain a bit about who you are and what you have been part of?

My name is Mahmoud Kemal Sarsak. I'm 26 years old and I was previously a player in the national Palestinian football team and I am now a released Palestinian prisoner. I was arrested on 22 July 2009 while travelling to join my new club at the time - Balata Youth in the West Bank. The Israeli secret services said they did not have enough evidence to send me to trial so I was held unlawfully for three years without charge.

Ethnic cleansing in the Negev

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Hundreds of the thousands of Bedouins who currently live in the south of Israel are now facing ethnic cleansing. The Prawer plan is the largest act of displacement of Bedouin Palestinians in the Naqab (Negev) in decades.

The continued neglect of Palestinian Bedouins by Israel (but also the Palestinian authority and other Arab states) has contributed towards a situation where they are often omitted from political campaigns and solidarity. In the wake of this intensified attack placing those Bedouins in the Naqab at the heart of our solidarity and activity has to be a priority.

Yearning for a third Intifada

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Miriyam Aouragh reports from Nablus in the West Bank, where Israel's assault on Gaza provoked a new upsurge of protest and has further isolated the Palestinian Authority

Israel's "Pillar of Clouds" attack (the less fanatical-sounding "Pillar of Defence" was only used for English speaking audiences) sounded like a paperback thriller - but for Gazans it was an episode of real-life terror. The biblical reference was to a description of the form God adopted to protect the Children of Israel by striking terror into the heart of Egyptians. For a week a cloud of bombs rained down on Gaza, the most densely populated area in the world.

Israel in isolation

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Israel's attack on Gaza has rightly caused outrage. But Israel's murder of Palestinians isn't the result of a failed peace process or a few bad Israeli leaders - it springs from the very nature of the Israeli state. Estelle Cooch explains how the recent attack fits into the history of apartheid in Palestine

There's a well known adage, often attributed to Albert Einstein, that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results". With that in mind, why did Israel launch yet another attack on Gaza last month - one that seems to have ended with a strengthened Hamas and a more isolated Israel? Did they expect a different result?

Jordan: a revolt renewed

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As Israel launched its assault on Gaza, the return of Jordan's popular movement demonstrated the continuing vitality of the Arab revolutions.

The hirak (movement) erupted in simultaneous demonstrations across major towns in the second week of November. The immediate demand was for the reversal of the royal decision to remove price subsidies on essential goods such as fuel. However, the demonstrations have broken through the bubble that had hitherto protected the Jordanian Hashemite monarchy.

Palestine: youth in revolt

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Saba Shiraz and Estelle Cooch spoke to economist and East Jerusalem activist Ibrahim Shikaki about the recent protests in the West Bank and the impact of the Arab Spring on Palestine

What were the origins of the protests in September in the West Bank?

I think initially it started because of economics. The main reason people protested was because of increasing costs. But it was when the trade unions acted, the most important of which were the public transport unions, that people really felt the impact of what was going on. On top of that you had youth groups, political parties and others becoming involved alongside a shift from the initially economic goals to political ones as well.

Nothing to lose but their chains

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Since 17 April 2012 (Palestinian Prisoners Day) a new wave of resistance has been launched by political prisoners in Israeli jails. Around 1,600 prisoners declared that they were starting an indefinite hunger strike, referred to as the "Karama" (dignity) strike.

This marks the biggest collective hunger strike led by prisoners since 2004.

The strike was sparked by two prisoners, Khadir Adnan and Hana Shalabi. Both have been released after 66 and 53 days of hunger strike respectively.

Both were protesting against the policy of administrative detention that has led to the jailing of almost 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli dungeons.

Administrative detention allows the Israeli state to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.

Friend of the Palestinians?

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Miriyam Aouragh dismisses the claim that a revolution in Syria would be a disaster for the Palestinians

Syria lies at a very sensitive nexus in the Middle East. It borders Israel, a state that poses a very real threat to it. The country lacks it own natural resources, and is dependent on other states economically. US president George Bush described Syria as a "state sponsor of terrorism", and the regime sees itself as standing alone. So it looks to ally with other anti-US and anti-Israel movements, such as Palestinian Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon, in order to strengthen its position.

One Big Tent

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The revolutions that have swept the Arab world have received an unexpected echo: on the streets of Israel. In July, the New York Times reported on how, "Six months after Cairo's Tahrir Square became synonymous with the region's transformation, another Middle Eastern city has been hit by Facebook-driven protests with potentially serious political consequences.

But here in Israel, where urban tent cities began springing up a week ago and continue multiplying across the country, the issue is not democracy but the plight of the consumer, especially in housing, food and other basic goods." The Times added, "while Israel's Arab neighbours have historically been seen here as the source of the country's woes, now some are calling them an inspiration."

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