The families of Palestinian Authority terrorists shut down an UNRWA office in Shechem on Wednesday to protest the organization’s silence about a Palestinian hunger strike in Israeli jails, the Palestinian news website Ma’an said.
Imad Ishtewy, a local spokesman, said the UN should intervene in the hunger strike immediately, and added that activists on the outside would escalate their plans in support of the killers in the coming days. More than 100 PA Arabs declared a hunger strike a month ago to their detention without charge or trial in Israeli jails. Most of them started their hunger strike over three weeks ago.
The current strike is not the first time PA prisoners have attacked UNRWA installations and complained that the aid organization fails to meet their needs. Residents of UNRWA camps in Judea and Samaria and Jordan say the services they receive from UNRWA are often substandard – when they exist at all. In many camps, health clinics are often open for just three to five hours a day, and even then residents say they provide little more than basic over-the-counter painkillers.
Even worse, camp residents in Gaza, Judea and Samaria and Jordan have told this reporter that UNRWA has failed to protect their interests vis-à-vis local authorities. In Gaza, this means that the Hamas government has taken control of UNRWA facilities to fire rockets at civilian targets in Israel (most notably during the 2008 Operation Cast Lead), and has refused to use international aid funds to purchase medicine for UNRWA camp facilities.
In Jordan, UNRWA failures are even more dramatic. “Roads” in UNRWA camps are often little more than unpaved dirt paths, with bare-footed children begging on every corner. Worse, residents of some Jordanian camps have no civil rights in the country because they do not possess Jordanian social security numbers. This bars them from legally working (they are allowed to perform day labor), owning property or businesses and from moving out of the camp.
But those issues do not seem to be in UNRWA’s agenda. Camp officials in all the camps mentioned here say that UNRWA officials care more about receiving their salaries and receiving international visitors than they do about serving the needs of refugees.
“What have they done here? We have nothing, we have no rights, and they think they’re saving the world because the health clinic is open from 11-2 every day. I don’t know if we’d be better off without them, but we certainly aren’t any better off with them,” one camp resident said.
Hunger strike, or not eating?
The current hunger strike is not the first time PA prisoners have declared a hunger strike to protest Israeli policies. But if the reports are correct that 15 people have been hospitalized since the strike began on April 24, it might be the first time that incarcerated prisoners have actually stopped eating: During a similar “strike” in 2004, PA leaders in jail were humiliated after prison guards filmed them eating during the strike. The stars of that Pallywood production included Marwan Barghouti, the arch Palestinian terror mastermind who is considered by Israeli and international human rights workers as the jewel in the crown of Palestinians in Israeli jails.
The last prisoner hunger strike, in May 2012, supposedly included 2,000 prisoners and ended after 27 days after Israel agreed to release administrative detainees and to allow 400 prisoners from the Gaza Strip to receive family visits.