Palestinian hunger striker Samer Al Issawi has become the embodiment of the Israeli regime’s deepest insecurities, its injustice and the supremacist values on which it was founded. By going on hunger strike, he has become a formidable force of nonviolent resistance, shaking the occupation regime to its core.
This regime holds thousands of Palestinian prisoners, many of them youths, without charge or due process. For years, its rulings against Palestinians have been arbitrary. Keeping such a large percentage of the youth population serves many purposes for the regime. It ensures that Palestinian streets are emptied of protesters and that its civil society is starved of a leadership that will demand change. But more importantly, it controls the growth of Palestinian population. Unable to marry or receive conjugal visits in prison, many of these men remain without children that may threaten the “Jewish nature” of Israel.
This is why the hunger strike by Al Issawi, which was emulated by others, shook Israel and will continue to do so. Israel cannot paint the prisoners as terrorists or punish them further. Having realised this, the regime saw it within its narrow interests to release him before his actions turned into a movement that would spread into a rebellion from within its prisons.
Israel may have acted in time to free Al Issawi and end his protest, but Al Issawi is just the start of an avalanche that Israel faces.