An Israeli Defense Forces soldier, currently serving time in a military prison for his refusal to serve in the IDF and participate in Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories, has begun a hunger strike in solidarity with scores of Palestinian administrative detainees.

Amira Hass at Haaretz writes:

Yaniv Mazor, a 31-year-old Jerusalem resident, was sentenced last week to 20 days in jail over his refusal to fill any position, be it combat or otherwise, in what he said was the occupying army. He was transferred to the IDF’s Tzrifin prison on Monday, launching his hunger strike the following day. In a phone conversation with his attorney Michael Sfard on Friday, Mazor said that he had “become appalled over the last few months by the hunger strike initiated by Palestinian administrative prisoners, but I couldn’t do much about it.”

“I decided to start a hunger strike in solidarity [with the Palestinians], and in order to raise awareness on the issue of administrative detention, and not to prompt my own release,” Mazor added.

This courageous and rare move from an Israeli solider comes on the heels of massive hunger strikes from Palestinian prisoners in recent months. The strikes have put pressure on Israel to improve conditions for Palestinian prisoners and end the country’s widespread use of administrative detentions.

Palestinians living in the West Bank — or the Palestinian Territories — are subject to military law, and hundreds of Palestinians at any given moment are held in Israeli jails without any due process or even charges, many of whom are held for over a year under such conditions.

Noam Sheizaf at +972 Magazine reports:

At any given moment, hundreds of Palestinians are held by Israel without trial, with no charges filed against them, and without the ability to defend themselves against non-existent charges. In short, they are simply thrown into prison for a period of up to six months, which can be renewed indefinitely.

[...]

Administrative detention exist in other countries, but is considered a unique and exceptional measure, and its implementation usually leads to a vigorous public debate. In the West Bank, it’s routine. Over the years, Israel has held thousands of Palestinians in administrative detention for periods ranging from a few months to several years. Eighty of the Palestinians held under administrative arrest – some 26 percent of the detainees – have been held for six months to one year; another 88 people (about 28.5 percent) from one to two years. Sixteen Palestinians have been in administrative detention continuously for two to four and a half years, and one man has been held for over five years.

Such a state of affairs is precisely why Palestinians, by the thousands, have in recent months decided to nonviolently protest by refusing to eat.

And now, an Israeli soldier, refusing to participate in this military reality in the Palestinian Territories, has joined them.

It’s a brave move, and one that is not going unnoticed in Israel, as coverage of his strike grows – coverage that is slowly showing Israelis the true reality of their country’s ongoing occupation.

Follow the author – David Harris-Gershon – on Twitter @David_EHG


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