There’s a line from a poem that says, “فلا يحس بالجرح الا من به ألم” which translates; “only the wounded would feel the pain,” this perfectly describes what Palestinian prisoners are going through with “their” hunger strike.
It’s been 42 days of nothing but water filling their stomachs.
And today on the 42nd day of their agonizing pain, there was yet another demonstration or gathering in solidarity with the 100+ - in addition to thousands who’ve joined the strike recently- Palestinian Administrative Detention prisoners on hunger strike for over a month. Student representatives of each of the parties of Birzeit Universty Students Council have shared their words, they roared, screamed and scratched. Most of them were emotional, some spoke as if they were the prisoners’ –soon to become martyrs as some implied- mothers or wives, others were the children, and some were speaking on behalf of the prisoners themselves. Merely role-playing of course.
And the 42nd day of the hunger strike didn’t stop, they were still dying.
Tens of students have gathered, and after an hour or so of heavy doses of emotional talk, the students’ body council finally asked us, Birzeit students and professors, to march down Ofer Prison to show our refusal not just with screaming emotional words, but with rocks, with action, with rage. As there seems to be this hidden urge of having another bloody body of Muhammed Odeh or Nadim Nuwara or our own university student; Saji Darwish. An urge crying out for more martyrs.
So instead of just mourning our prisoners, we’ll mourn more dead young Palestinians; for whom these prisoners are risking their lives for.
While standing there among the students who were showing there “support” and “solidarity” to the prisoners; there were a lot of familiar faces. My classmate, who has a brother participating in the hunger strike in Israeli prisons, was standing there with teary but fierce eyes. A friend, whose father has been in administrative detention, in and out, for over 16 years –who’s also on hunger strike; was standing there with a blank expression. Another friend whose uncle was robbed of his freedom due to administrative detention in Israeli prisons –another prisoner on hunger strike- was standing there with nothing but rage igniting of her entire body.
These are the only people who would actually understand or feel the pain of these prisoners going on hunger strike. These are the people who are going to Ofer prison in support of their family members and loved ones dying in Israeli prisons. Hence in the end, it wasn’t a solidarity demonstration. It was these students with their families alone, with us merely passing by them without the tiniest bit of knowledge in how to actually support them. So these students will go down to Ofer, and get shot, and this family won’t have a father dying in Israeli prisons only, but a son or a daughter to add to the list. It’s not just these administrative prisoners on hunger strike who’re dying; it’s everybody close to them as well.
And this makes me grit my teeth in fury.
What I detest the most about growing up is how conscious we become of pain, and how helpless in moments of weakness we stand in front of it. Mute statues with little or no influence over it; especially when it’s not of direct connection to us. And that’s what’s happening right now.
On the 42nd day of the prisoners’ hunger strike, sadly, other matters were taking place as well, life was taking place. Today a lot of my friends’ had their thesis presentations and discussions; a big day usually. Others were visiting relatives in hospitals who’ve just had a new baby, while some had big exams that were determinant in their academic path. In addition to all the others that were measuring future plans of days yet to come, of a future yet to come; that sooner maybe than later, prisoners and their families would be robbed of.
That’s the cruel reality of the occupation, and of life as a Palestinian.
Life never stops, even when it should.
The fact that life does go on turns the struggle from a collective struggle to an individualistic one; and hence kills it. In order to actually support prisoners in their plight, everyday –at least- every Palestinian should wake up with no goal other than doing everything possible to support them. Whether it was demonstrating at university campuses, or schools, or the streets or in front of the UN, the Red Cross, and the PA’s offices, or closing shops in solidarity, or visiting the families of prisoners, or spreading awareness … etc; it should be a collective act, and not limited only to the Palestinians in Palestine; but worldwide as well, and only then we’ll witness a positive shift.
It’s not just the father of a prisoner who suffers, or the son and daughter, or the husband or the wife or the mother; it’s all of us. These prisoners are risking their lives so “we”; as in all Palestinians who are under the threat of administrative detention daily, will have a better future, a future free of administration detention; therefore if we don’t at least be there for them, who would?
They’re risking their lives for us to live, so we should live for them and not die. By going to Ofer Israeli Prison, and by throwing rocks, we might feel better about ourselves, that we actually did something in protest; but the way I see it, it’s the total opposite. By going to Ofer Israeli Prison to throw rocks and risk our lives due to the shadowy threat of a sniper bullet hovering over us, we’re throwing their efforts in vain. We’re wasting their lives not just ours. It’s time our lives to matter and be meaningful, not for us alone, but for them, for a better future for Palestine. We keep objecting time and time again of how Israelis undermine the lives of Palestinians, but in reality, we are doing so to ourselves as well. We don’t need any more Nadims or Muhammeds or Sajis; we’ve had more than enough. So if we truly want to support our prisoners, let’s live. Let’s do everything we can possibly do without any attempt of wasting their tremendous sacrifices.
And if Israel was finally pressured by the prisoners’ strike without a collective awareness and responsibility being created in the hearts and minds of us and people worldwide, without a non-stopping thirst for life, then it’s only half a battle won, and ten steps backward in the war.
Unless it turns from “only the wounded would feel the pain’ to “your pain is our pain”, we have no right to celebrate their –hopefully soon- victory to come. It’ll be theirs; theirs and their families alone. So the following steps to be taken are clear; be, do, and live.
In order to know more, so you can do more, here’s a link to get more information about Palestinian Administrative Detention prisoners on hunger strike:
"Abdul Raziq Faraj, on hunger strike since April,
"Mohammad Kahoush, on hunger
strike since April, 24th, 2014"