Israeli Human Rights Abuses Extensively Documented: US Author

Israeli Human Rights Abuses Extensively Documented: US Author

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An independent American political analyst and author highlighted the Israeli regime’s heinous crimes against the Palestinian people, prisoners in particular, saying Tel Aviv’s human rights violations are “extensively documented”.

“Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinian prisoners are extensively documented,” Jeremy Hammond from Michigan said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.

“Even arresting Palestinians in the occupied territories and transferring them to Israel for imprisonment is a violation of international law, not to mention the treatment of the prisoners, including torture,” the analyst added.

Hammond is an award-winning political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, and author. His new book is Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. In 2009, he received a Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his coverage of the US’s support for Israel’s 22-day full-scale military assault on the Gaza Strip, “Operation Cast Lead” (Dec. 27, 2008 – Jan. 18, 2009).

The following is the full text of the interview:

Tasnim: As you know, an open-ended mass hunger strike by some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has continued for weeks, with Israeli prison authorities ramping up punitive measures in an attempt to pressure prisoners to break their strikes. Since the launch of the strike on April 17, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has continuously been transferring hunger strikers into solitary confinement and between different Israeli prisons in an attempt to separate hunger strikers from one another and break the strike, according to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency. What is your assessment of the developments?

Hammond: There have been some interesting developments recently. The hunger-striking prisoners include parliament member Marwan Barghouti, who was imprisoned in 2002 and has enjoyed immense popularity among the Palestinians. Polls consistently show that if elections were held, he would handily defeat acting president Mahmoud Abbas, who has long remained in office illegitimately, his term having expired years ago.

There is an increasing awareness that the Palestinian Authority is a body that does not well serve the interests of the Palestinian people. It was established under the Oslo Accords to effectively serve as Israel’s collaborator in enforcing its occupation regime. Barghouti has been critical of the PA leadership under Abbas, and there has been enormous pressure on Israel to release him. Even the US government has advocated his release.

But then you have Hamas, which recently issued a political document that essentially accepts the two-state solution as a provisional step toward an eventual single democratic state. This document also takes straight aim at Abbas, calling for the PA’s parent organization, the PLO, to be reconstituted through elections. Hamas’s wording suggests it wants to join the PA, but in essence, what Hamas is aiming to do is to eliminate the PA, which is natural since the document also states Hamas’s position that the Oslo Accords are null and void.

There is a power struggle happening within the Palestinian leadership. Who will replace Abbas? It is hard to predict what might happen, but these are definitely interesting moves that have implications for the future of the Palestinian people and their struggle against the occupation.

Tasnim: Many groups and political figures and activist across the world, ranging from a number of students in the UK to the 88-year-old former Lebanese prime minister Salim al-Hoss, have joined an international hunger strike in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners. Meanwhile, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Gregory III Laham declared a solidarity hunger strike in support of the prisoners. What do you thing about such moves? Do they have any positive impact on the international community to understand the dire situation in the occupied territories?

Hammond: I’m not able to assess the impact international solidarity efforts with the hunger strikers might have or be having.

Tasnim: According to media reports, Palestinian prisoners complain that they have been subjected to assault and torture at Israeli jails. What do you think about the human rights violations in the prisons?

Hammond: Israel’s human rights abuses against Palestinian prisoners are extensively documented. Even arresting Palestinians in the occupied territories and transferring them to Israel for imprisonment is a violation of international law, not to mention the treatment of the prisoners, including torture.

Tasnim: According to the Middle East Monitor, before the strike was launched, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan ordered for the establishment of a military hospital to ensure that hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners were not transferred to civilian hospitals – which have so far refused to force-feed hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. Why has the international community, the Western mainstream media, in particular, made a muted response to the human rights violations so far?

Hammond: The question of why the Western media is typically so mute about Israel’s human rights abuses is a big one. For your readers wishing to learn more about why this is so, I recommend reading my article "The Role of the US Media in the Palestine Conflict".

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