The Next Hunger Striker – Hana Al Shalabi

Hana Al Shalabi, 29, has spent more than two years on administrative detention. As someone nearing the age of 29 myself, I can appreciate how much time two years would be to spend inside a jail without charge. The story of her arrest is chilling:

Hana Yahya Shalabi was arrested from her family home on 14 September 2009. At approximately 1:30 a.m. that morning, Israeli soldiers in 12 military jeeps surrounded her house in Burqin village, near the West Bank town of Jenin. The soldiers ordered Hana’s entire family outside of the house and demanded Hana give them her identity card. They then proceeded to conduct a thorough search of the family’s home. During the search, one of the soldiers forcibly removed framed pictures of Hana’s brother Samer, who was killed by the Israeli army in 2005, tore them apart and walked over the pieces in front of the entire family. The soldiers then started shouting and cursing at Hana and her family members. When Hana’s father, aged 63, attempted to intervene and protect his daughter from continued verbal abuse, one Israeli soldier pushed him in the chest with the butt of a rifle. Clearly distressed, Hana’s mother fainted at this scene. The soldiers then handcuffed Hana in painfully tight shackles around her wrists and placed her under arrest.

Once arrested, Hana was subjected to sexual and harassment and physical violence during her interrogation:

Hana told Addameer attorney Safa Abdo of an incident that occurred at end of an interrogation session, in which she did not confess to committing a crime, as her interrogators had expected. In a move that Addameer contends was an effort to provoke Hana, one of the Israeli interrogators called Hana “habibti” (Arabic for “darling”) in a provocative manner.

Feeling humiliated and angry at the interrogator’s offensive use of an intimate term, Hana started shouting at him. The interrogators responded by slapping her on her face and beating her on her arms and hands. The guards then took her back to her cell where they tied her to the bed frame and continued humiliating her by taking pictures of her laying in that position.
Addameer is greatly concerned by the verbal abuse Israeli detaining authorities display towards Palestinian female prisoners by directing sexual threats towards them and using inappropriate, vulgar language. Addameer contends that this behavior is done in a deliberate effort to exploit Palestinian women’s fears by playing on patriarchal norms as well as gender stereotypes within particular customs of Palestinian society.
Hana was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, but has been re-arrested and is under a six month administrative detention order. In protest against her detention, she has been on hunger strike for seven days.
The strength of women in the Palestinian revolution is too often overlooked by Western media. It does not fit our conception of Muslim society as Patriarchy and misogynistic to write stories about women who resist. However, women have always been part of the Palestinian revolution – in militant groups and in civil resistance, Palestinian women are as defiant of their exile and oppression as Palestinian men. Women’s resistance will be highlighted at this year’s Israeli Apartheid week in Toronto on the Wednesday event:
WEDNESDAY, March 7th
Women`s Resistance: From the Uprisings, to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
Speakers: Deena Gamil, Nahla Abdo, Monira Kitmitto
7:00 – 9:00 PM
Location:  York University, Room TBA
Hosted by Students Against Israeli Apartheid – York

Deena Gamil is a journalist, writer, revolutionary socialist activist and leading figure in the Socialist Popular Alliance Party. She works as a reporter, a radio and TV producer and an editor at various press and media institutions like Al-Alam al-Youm economic daily newspaper, Rose al-Youssef weekly magazine and the BBC. She is currently the editor of the home section at Al-Shuruq daily newspaper.  Deena is a founding member of the largest leftist party in Egypt – the Socialist Popular Alliance Party. She has participated in various fronts and coalitions such as Kefaya and the Popular Committee for Solidarity with the Palestinian Uprising. Deena has a Masters in sociology from the American University in Cairo (AUC). 
Nahla Abdo is a Arab feminist activist and Professor of Sociology at Carlton University. Nahla is interested in understating the dynamics between gender, class, race/ethnicity, sexuality and the state. More specifically, her work has focused on issue such as: gender, sexuality and the State in the Middle East; the dynamics between feminism(s) and nationalism(s); the gendered East/West; and resistance and challenges from the field.

Monira Kitmitto  is a Palestinian activist and member of CAIA who has recently returned from traveling around the Middle East. Monira will be discussing the way in which the developments of the ‘Arab Spring’ are impacting Palestine solidarity efforts. She has worked in Palestinian refugee camps Lebanon and was an active member in the Union of Palestinian Women.

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