Posts Tagged ‘hunger strike’
How Israel treats Palestinian prisoners: 1,500 are on hunger strike
It is to be noted that 30% of Palestinian prisoners are youth, detained administratively without trial and for many months.
The following essay is a chapter of “Shadow of a Wall” (Zol al jidaar, 1997). The letter of Palestinian prisoner Barghouthy to New York Times is worth reading.
إضراب عن الطعام
كان العشاء قد وُزِّعَ أمام الأبواب المغلقة، تمهيداً لإدخاله إلى الزنازين، حين تردّدت في فضاء المعتقل كلمة “الإضراب”. لا أحد يعرف من أطلقها، ولكن الجميع كانوا جياعاً؛ وكانت كميّة الطعام الداخلة إلى الزنزانة بالكاد تشبع واحداً من نزلائها الستة.
يشتعل المعتقل بالكلمة. وتتناثر مطالب الزنازين في الفضاء المحدود.. ويتنقّل شباب “الكلفة” ــــ وهم معتقلون مهمّتهم توزيع الطعام ــــ بين الزنازين، لتوحيد المطالب والصفوف. والشرطة لاهية عن ذلك في الخارج.. في داخل كل زنزانة، ينعقد مجلس صغير للبحث في ما يمكن المطالبة به: طعام.. حمام.. دخان.. شمس.. أدوية.. زيارات..
ويقول أحدكم: “مشط”.. تثير الكلمة سخرية. كانوا يحلقون لكم دورياً كل شهرين، وهي فترة ما كانت تسمح للشعر بأن ينمو.. تنبّهونه إلى هذا الأمر، فلا يتراجع، ويضيف مطلباً جديداً: “أن لا يحلقوا لنا إجبارياً”.. كان ذلك نوعاً من الكماليات.. تنصرفون عنه. شيئاً فشيئاً تتكوّن اللائحة. تحتوي على الضروري من المطالب. ويتمّ الاتفاق: لن يدخل الطعام إلى الزنازين إلاّ إذا لُبِّيَتْ كل المطالب. لا مكان لأيّ وعود.
يجيء الشرطي ويبدأ فتح الأبواب لإدخال الطعام. كان الترقّب يلفّ المعتقل بالصمت. يقول معتقل في الزنزانة الأولى مخاطباً الشرطي: “لن نأكل حتى يحضر المسؤول الإسرائيلي!”. لا يقول الشرطي شيئاً.. وعند الزنزانة التالية يقولون له نفس الشيء.
يسأل عندئذٍ بصوت مرتفع: “من يريد أن يأكل؟”.. ويجيئه الرد فورياً: “لن نأكل حتى يحضر المسؤول الإسرائيلي!”.. يغادر الشرطي المعتقل بهدوء ولا مبالاة. يقول أحد المعتقلين: “سيأتون الآن لإدخال الطعام بالقوّة!”. تمرّ دقائق، وتجيء مجموعة من رجال الشرطة مدجّجة بالسلاح، وفي أيديهم هراوات يلوّحون بها في تهديد واضح.. يتجوّلون بين الزنازين..
يسألون عن أسباب الإضراب، ويحدّقون في الوجوه. يهمس القديم، ذو الخبرة: “يبحثون الآن عن أضعفنا لينفذوا من خلاله.”.. فوراً يجدونه. يدور حوار قصير مع الشرطي على مسمع من الجميع. كان الكل قلقين. على موقف هذا السجين يتوقّف مصير الإضراب. لم يكن السجين حاسماً، ولكنه قال في اختصار أنه لن يأكل إلاّ إذا كانت كمّية الطعام كافية لإشباعه.. يفتح الشرطي باب الزنزانة ويأمره بالخروج.. يصفعه على وجهه طالباً منه أن يأكل. لم يجب السجين. صفعة ثانية. يقول: “لن آكل إلاّ إذا شبعت!”.. ينهال عليه بالهراوة، والشتائم.. يقول السجين جملته القصيرة، ولا يأكل.
يعيده الشرطي إلى الزنزانة ويغلق الباب. يغمر الارتياح المعتقل. مرّت المرحلة الأصعب. ستعرف إدارة المعتقل الآن، أن هذا إضراب جدّي. يخرج رجال الشرطة، وترسل كل الزنازين تحياتها إلى الزنزانة التي صمدت. كانت المعنويات مرتفعة، وصار الخوف شيئاً منسياً. يقول ذو الخبرة: “سيجيئون الآن بوجوه كالزئبق.”. يدخل إلى الرواق إثنان من رجال الشرطة. هادئان.. لطيفان.. يؤكّدان على أحقّية مطالبكم.. و”أنهم” يشعرون معكم.. و”أنهم” كانوا ينتظرون هذا الإضراب منذ زمن.. “تأخّرتم عن المطالبة بحقوقكم..” يقولان.. “ولكن عليكم أن تفهموا أن الأوامر تأتي من الداخل.. من إسرائيل.. لا شيء يُبَتُّ هنا.”.. لذلك :”أمهلوا الإدارة.. ستنقل طلباتكم إلى المعنيّين لدراستها”.
أما الآن “فأدخلوا الطعام.. جعتم طويلاً، فلا بأس بأسبوع آخر..”. لم تلْقَ محاولاتهما ترحيباً. إهتزّ صمود البعض بالكلام المعسول، ولكن سرعان ما عدتم إلى الإلتفاف من جديد. “لا بأس. سوف ننتظر قرار الداخل”، تقول الزنازين. يخرج الشرطيان في سخط. ويقول ذو الخبرة: “سيتركوننا الآن للجوع وللوقت”.. “يعني، لن يزيدوا الطعام؟”.. يسأله أحدكم.. فيجيب في ثقة: “سيزيدونه بالقدر الذي نريد.. نحن الآن من يقرّر!”.
يطول انتظاركم. ويقف كثيرون محدّقين إلى الطعام المرمي أمام الأبواب، متحسّرين: “لندخله قبل أن يسحبه الذباب”.. يدخل شرطي: “عيّنوا لجنة من شخصين لمحاورة الإدارة”. ترفضون طلبه بالإجماع.. “هذا شرك لتفتيتنا”. يقول صاحبكم الخبير، محذراً.. يعود رجال الشرطة إلى ممرات المعتقل. يضربون الأرض بأقدامهم، فترنّ في قراغ الممرات مهدّدة.. كانت وجوههم متغضّنة بالحقد. تقابلونهم ببرود. لم تعد حركاتهم تعني شيئاً. ويقول صاحبكم: “لقد حملوا سلاحهم في وجه سلاحنا الذي شهرناه..”. تسألونه: “وأيّ سلاح نملك نحن العزّل؟”.. يقول: “العصيان”.
كانت حركات رجال الشرطة تزيد المعنويات ارتفاعاً. وكنتم واثقين من أن مطالبكم ستلبّى. فجأة، يعلو همس.. جاء الضابط الإسرائيلي. يقف رجال الشرطة بلا حراك. يختفون بالنسبة إليكم، فلا يعود لهم وجود. في كل مرة يأتي فيها الإسرائيلي، كانوا يذوبون. يصيرون لا شيء. ويسيرون خلفه كظلّه، في انتظار إشارة منه أو أمر. وكنت تستغرب: أين تروح كل قسوتهم وعجرفتهم.. وكيف يقبلون هذا الذلّ؟.. أما أنتم فكنتم تقفون قبالة الإسرائيلي وقوف الند. تطلبون. تناقشون ما يعرضه عليكم، وترفضون إغراءاته.. لكم شروطكم التي سيرضخ لها.. وكان رجال الشرطة يحسّون بهذا الفارق، فيخجلون من النظر إلى عيونكم.. وكنتم تزدادون إيماناً، ويذوب الحديد والأبواب والأقفال في شعور عارم بالثقة والاعتزاز. يقول صاحبكم: “سيمرّ الضابط على كل الغرف مهدّداً، ولكنه سيقبل في النهاية شروطنا”. كل المعتقل كان يعرف هذا الضابط. وهو كان يعرف كل المعتقل.. يذكر كلّ الوجوه.. وتفاصيل كل قضية بصغائرها.
وكانت قبضته، مثل ذاكرته قوية. ولكنكم الآن لا تخشون ذاكرته ولا قبضته.. تقفون عند أبواب زنزاناتكم، فيحدّق فيكم واحداً واحداً. يحاول أن يسخر فتجيء سخريته باهتة.. لا تثير ابتساماً إلاّ عند المتزلفين.. وهو يعرفهم ولا يأبه لهم. يقف ببابكم. خلفه ظلّه. ظلاله. خلفه لا أحد. يقول ببطء: “من لا يأكل، يموت”. لا تجيبون. يتطلّع مجدّداً ويقول: “من لا يأكل، سيموت في السجن..”. كانت كلماته تهديداً فارغاً بلا معنى. ينصرف إلى زنزانة ثانية. يدور على المعتقل بكامله. يعدكم بالنظر في المطالب: “فقط، أمهلوني إلى الغد”.. “سننتظر حتى الغد بدون طعام”.. يغضب. يقول أنه وعد. وأن الإسرائيلي يفي بوعوده، ولا يعرف الكذب. كان يشير إلى وعود مدير السجن اللبناني، التي أكلتها عقارب الساعة واحداً بعد الآخر. ذاب المدير خلف سيّده، ولم يدخل الطعام. يزمجر الضابط الإسرائيلي، وينصرف. كان المعتقلون في أوج المعركة صامدين. كانت المعركة قد انتهت.. وبدا النصر واضحاً.
يجيء رجال الشرطة. يخرجون “الكلفة” من جديد. يوزّعون طعاماً إضافياً. كان السرور عارماً. لأول مرة تأكلون كفايتكم. ويودّع بعضكم الجوع، مترحماً على أيامه.. ولكن صاحبكم الخبير يقول في هدوء: “كلوا الآن.. واعلموا أن الغد سيحمل جوعاً من جديد!..”.
من كتاب “ظل الجدار” ـــ 1997
What are the Missions of physicians within the secret service agencies Mukhabarat? An eye-witness account from Syria…
All secret service agencies around the world hire their special physicians to tend to prisoners during interrogation sessions. In dictatorial and absolute regimes, the missions of the physician increase in spectrum and specificities…
Abu Salim was a physician for the military Syrian Air Force Intelligence Services, before he deserted “stopped showing up, or didn’t return to work” and started treating the victims in makeshift hospitals and clinics in Homs.
Abu Salim divulged to journalist Jonathan Littell in “Diaries of Homs” what were his missions:
1. Maintaining alive the tortured prisoners (mostly political) until they admit on specific pieces of information.
2. Re-animating prisoners who lost consciousness during interrogation.
3. Administering psychotropic chemical products such as Chlorpromazine, diazepam, Valium, ketamine, ketalar…
4. Injecting alcohol 90% in eyes and noses… Alcohol is an excellent torture technique
5. Dispatching the prisoner to the military hospital, once he reached a dangerous resistance level
6. At the hospital, only the physician working for the Mukhabarat and the chief-physician of the hospital are permitted to treat the prisoner…
After the Syrian uprising, two years ago,:
1. Prisoners, judged not to be of major importance, are left to die. The physician sends his report to the high administrator in the prison who decides for any transfer to the military hospital
2. The physician is attached to the tortured prisoner and is not allowed to talk to him…
3. The physician stays with the prisoner patient and he is searched every time he exits or re-enters the room, by the two guards posted outside the room.
Abu Salim claims that there are 16 “Arab” prisoners (non-Syrian) in jail since 1985, and they are kept in individual cells.
13 of the special Arab prisoners are Lebanese, including two considered to be highly “dangerous”, 2 Jordanians, and an Algerian.
One of the dangerous Lebanese prisoner confessed that “I had a problem with Hafez al Assad (father of bashar)”
The 16 Arab prisoners went on hunger strike for 33 days requesting:
1. The right to read dailies
2. the right for fresh bread
3. the right for food that don’t smell bad!
The Arab prisoners had their dangerous and controversial demands satisfied.
Abu Salim report was told in February 2011, a couple of weeks before the regular Syrian army devastated the district of Baba Amru in the city of Homs.
Since then, the civil war escalation has taken foolish proportions and unimaginable cruelty and brutality, especially against civilians.
So far, over 200,000 Syrian citizens flocked into Lebanon territory, and reaching even to the Arkoub region in the south.
The Lebanese government finally admitted to 125,000 refugees (official count on legitimate border crossings) and asked the UN to extend funds and support for the Syrian refugees.
And the cycle of refugees from various Arab States continues to be the name of the game in these unstable political regimes…
Part 2. Israel formed a war “unity government”: The Palestinian Authority formed what?
You might be interested to start with part 1: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/israel-formed-a-war-unity-government-the-palestinian-authority-formed-what/
Israel Netanyahu PM changed his mind: Instead of his promise for an early election, he formed a “unity government” with Kadima and its leader Shawul Mofaz. Why?
Israel “unity government” is indeed a war cabinet: Israel is getting ready to confront two urgent problems to tackle:
First problem: The inevitable Fourth Palestinian Intifada (civil disobedience) has already started silently two months ago, and all indicate a full-fledge development:
1. Israel was forced to agree on all the demands of the Palestinian prisoners who waged a month-long hunger strike. More than two months ago, the two prisoners Bilal Diyab (27) and Thaer Halahela (34) crossed the dangerous hunger strike of 75 days. A month ago, 3,000 Palestinian prisoners, out of 4,500 started their hunger strike.
Egypt intervened in the negotiation and Israel agreed yesterday on all the demands of the prisoners. Mainly:
1. Releasing all prisoners in isolation cells: scores have been in isolation for over 10 years.
2. Dropping the antic British mandate apartheid administrative detention laws: 310 prisoners were jailed administratively and were not sent to trial. Under this emergency/curfew law, Israel authority could detain any Palestinian (exclusively Palestinians) for 6 months, renewable at will.
Actually, 60% of Palestinian youth entered this revolving door, just to keeping them out of circulation.
3. Allowing the families in Gaza to visit their members in jails. Prisoners from Gaza suffered undue harshness and complete isolation.
4. Permitting prisoners to continue their education…
5. Israel will return the dead bodies of 100 Palestinian martyrs, many of them died in prisons…
Mind you that in several occasions in the past 50 years, Palestinian prisoners engaged in hunger strikes and Israel would agree on deals, and then renege on them shortly after, and the prisoners had to suffer from the same humiliating tactics in prisons…
2. Israel is preparing to execute a new apartheid plan that Kadima approves, and was submitted to many institutions and military officers. Henry Sigman (see note) uncovered the secret apartheid program to be executed in the West Bank in Zones C.
Neftal Bennett, former cabinet secretary to Netanyahu and former director of the settlers council in Yehuda and Samaria, discussed and disseminated his apartheid new program in the occupied West Bank. What is this plan?
1. Israel and unilaterally (as usual), will grab the lands in zone C (as agreed upon in the Oslo deal) and annex all the town and villages to the State of Israel. Palestinians in zone C are about 150,000, and the program envisions to give Israeli passports to only 50,000 of these Palestinians. Where the other 100,000 Palestinians will be “transferred” to?
2. All of Jerusalem will be under total Israel security authority.
3. Israel will deploy its security umbrella to all of the West Bank
4. Gaza will be split from the West Bank and attached to Egypt
5. Deny all Palestinian refugees outside of Israel from returning to even zone A under the Palestinian Authority. Mind you that the UN guaranteed their right to return in 1948.
Apparently this new apartheid plan received good responses from the government coalition political parties and many veteran military officers.
Israel unity government has the task of executing this apartheid new plan, and very soon. The Palestinian Intifada is going to be protracted.
Netanyahu didn’t want to be singled out as the scapegoat during the many troubles ahead of the massive Palestinian civil disobedience movement, and wanted falsely demonstrate that all of Israel is behind this apartheid program.
While Israel is forming a unity government, what this Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas was doing for an entire year?
Last May 4, 2011, Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas (in Gaza) agreed to form a unity government, hold an election, and strengthen the institutions…in this May 4, 2012. The date had come and gone, and nothing was accomplished.
It appears that the new Palestinian middle class (nouveaux riches) in the West Bank and many academics are squeaky of a deal with Hamas (read link in note 2). Why?
This class of Palestinians think that any deal with Hamas will send the strong signal or message that an Intifada is on a hot burner. And they don’t want any upheaval at this junction, and Israel is facilitating the illusion of prosperity and fairer behaviors with this middle Palestinian class.
The Lebanese correspondent Jihad el Zein to the daily al Nahar covered the conference in Cyprus in April 27 under the banner “Arab and Israel struggle in the light of the current changes”. He said: “Each time I meet with a Palestinian coming from the West Bank I ask him: “how long it took you to reach destination?” In general, it is an hour trip from Ramallah to the Jordanian border, but Palestinians spend 10 hours on the various checkpoints and lengthy investigation…This time, the academic Palestinians from the West Bank admitted it took them only about an hour and 30 minutes…”
Nabil Kassis, from the West Bank said: “In the past, when a faction split from the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the faction lost all credibility. This time around, it is the main organization that is suspected of deviation and lose credibility…”
The Hamas delegate Ghazi Hamad was the only member of the Palestinian delegation and he said: “I read all the papers and notes of the negotiation between Fateh and Hamas, and could not find a single word related to the religious issues…”
Sound very promising on civic mentality ground, though religious difficulties should be discussed head on, since there is no way to circumvent it being confronted to the rising tide of the Moslem Brotherhood movements… The Palestinians are the most educated and applied civil laws, and the people who experienced struggle in all its shape and forms. The Palestinians are set be the prime catalyst to show the way to the “Arab States” citizens for a civic life-style and democratic systems
The middle class Palestinians and academics in the West Bank must have realized that it was Hamas that reaped the victory and the benefits from the hunger strike. They have to decide: Shit or get off the seat. The Intifada is coming with the speed of a bullet train and you have got to take side and demonstrate steadfastness for the long haul.
Note 1: Henry Sigman uncovered the secret apartheid program to be executed in the West Bank in Zones C. Sigman is the former director of the Jewish American council.
This is a copy of the email sent to all American citizens visiting or living in Lebanon.
“To: All American Citizens
From: Consular Section
Subject: Emergency Message – May 9, 2012
Please see below for the updated version of the Travel Warning for Lebanon. The U.S. Department of State issues Travel Warnings when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country.
U.S. regulation requires that Travel Warnings be reviewed continually and updated at least every six months to ensure that the most current safety and security information is shared with the American public.
For more information about American Citizen Services in Lebanon, please visit the Embassy’s website at http://lebanon.usembassy.gov/information_for_travelers.html.
May 8, 2012
“The Department of State continues to urge U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon due to current safety and security concerns. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on October 12, 2011, to update information on security and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
The potential in Lebanon for a spontaneous upsurge in violence remains. Lebanese government authorities are not able to guarantee protection for citizens or visitors to the country should violence erupt suddenly (it cannot protect its citizens in Lebanon, since this is a pseudo-State, run by 18 officially recognized religious sects).
Access to borders, airports, and seaports can be interrupted with little or no warning. Public demonstrations occur frequently with little warning and have the potential to become violent.
Family or neighborhood disputes often escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with little or no warning. The ability of U.S. government personnel to reach travelers or provide emergency services may be severely limited.
A number of extremist groups operate in Lebanon, including some, such as Hizballah, that the U.S. government has designated as terrorist organizations. (Why the US purposedly fail to mention Al Qaeda and the various radical Islamist groups that it finance indirectly through Saudi Arabia and Qatar?)
U.S. citizens have been the target of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past, and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity continues to exist in Lebanon. (Mind you that all the warnings about Hezbollah are events that occurred in 1983-85, a period Hezbollah was splitting from the Amal militia movement of Nabih Berri, and Lebanon was responding to this massive Israeli war of 1982 (with green light from president Reagan, that killed 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians and handicapped and severely injured 60,000)
U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Lebanon despite this Travel Warning should keep a low profile, varying times and routes for all required travel. U.S. citizens also should pay close attention to their personal security at locations where Westerners generally are known to congregate, and should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.
Hizballah (Hezbollah) maintains a strong presence in parts of the southern suburbs of Beirut, portions of the Bekaa Valley, and areas in South Lebanon. The situation remains tense, and sporadic violence involving Hizballah or other extremist or criminal organizations remains a possibility in many areas of the country.
The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens that clashes between Lebanese authorities and criminal elements (radical Islamists financed by the Mustakbal Party and Saudi Wahhabi monarchy) have also recently occurred in other areas of the Bekaa and border regions.
The ongoing unrest in Syria has also resulted in numerous security incidents in the border regions between Lebanon and Syria, both in the north and in the Bekaa. On April 9, 2012, a journalist reporting from the Lebanese border was killed by gunfire originating from Syria. The potential for border violence remains.
Kidnapping, whether for ransom or political motives, remains a problem in Lebanon. Suspects in kidnappings sometimes have been found to have ties to terrorist or criminal organizations.
On March 23, 2011, seven Estonian bicyclists were kidnapped in Deir Zenoun, between Masnaa and Zahle in the Bekaa Valley. The kidnapping was planned and well-coordinated, according to Lebanese authorities. The Estonians were ultimately released on July 14, 2011.
Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. policy not to pay ransom.
Demonstrators (such as the Civic Pride movement?) sometimes block the primary road between downtown Beirut and Rafiq Hariri International Airport for short periods of time and without warning. Access to the airport also may be cut off, sometimes for extended periods, if the security situation deteriorates.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is a body the United Nations and Lebanon created to investigate past political assassinations, including the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. On June 30, 2011, the STL delivered to Lebanon’s Prosecutor General an indictment containing arrest warrants for four Hizballah members who are still at large.
Beginning March 1, 2012 the United Nations renewed the STL’s mandate for a second three-year term. U.S. citizens in Lebanon should monitor ongoing political developments, particularly in relation to the STL, as Lebanese political leaders have warned publicly that the Tribunal’s findings could spark civil unrest. (No one in Lebanon takes this Tribunal seriously, and don’t give a damn about its findings…It has been dragging on for too long…)
Rocket attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel have occurred in the past and remain a potential threat. (What about Israel cannon shells and daily military jets over flying our airspace?) These attacks frequently provoke a military response from Israel. The rocket attacks and responses occur with no warning. Skirmishes and tense exchanges between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Defense Forces (after Israel shot and killed two Lebanese soldiers), as well as protesters and civilians, along Lebanon’s southern border with Israel also may occur with no warning.
On May 15, 2011, several demonstrators were killed and several, including a U.S. citizen, were severely wounded near the southern Lebanese border town of Maroun a-Ras after clashes with Israel resulted in open gunfire. Landmines and unexploded ordnance pose significant dangers throughout southern Lebanon, particularly south of the Litani River, as well as in areas of the country where fighting was intense during the civil war.
More than 40 civilians have been killed and over 300 injured by unexploded ordnance remaining from the July-August 2006 Israel-Hizballah war. (Over 5 million cluster bombs were shelled by Israel, two days before the UN resolution for a cease fire. These cluster bombs were dispatched by the US on short notice from a depot in Scotland).
Travelers should watch for posted landmine warnings and strictly avoid all areas where landmines and unexploded ordnance may be present (the US has not contributed for the de-mining of unexploded bombs, a process that has not finished yet).
Palestinian groups hostile to both the Lebanese government and the United States operate largely autonomously inside refugee and military camps in different areas of the country. Intra-communal violence within the camps has resulted in violent incidents such as shootings and explosions. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Palestinian camps.
Asbat al-Ansar, a terrorist group with alleged links to Al-Qaida, has targeted Lebanese, U.S., and other foreign government interests. Although the group has been outlawed by the Lebanese government, it continues to maintain a presence in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp.
On December 9, 2011, an explosion in the eastern outskirts of Tyre in South Lebanon targeted a UN vehicle injuring five French peacekeepers and two civilians. This was the third attack aimed at UN Peacekeepers in 2011 with previous attacks on May 27, 2011 and July 26, 2011 when roadside bombs targeted UN convoys in which several peacekeepers were injured. These incidents took place on the coastal highway near Saida. Similar incidents could occur again without warning.
U.S. citizens traveling or resident in Lebanon despite this Travel Warning should be aware that the U.S. Embassy’s ability to reach all areas of Lebanon is limited. The Embassy cannot guarantee that Embassy employees will be able to render assistance to U.S. citizens in all areas of the country.
In the event that the security climate in the country worsens, U.S. citizens will be responsible for arranging their own travel out of Lebanon. U.S. citizens with special medical or other needs should be aware of the risks of remaining given their condition, and should be prepared to seek treatment in Lebanon if they cannot arrange for travel out of the country.
U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation that took place from Lebanon in 2006, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S. Government for travel costs.
The lack of a valid U.S. passport may hinder U.S. citizens’ ability to depart the country and may slow the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide assistance. U.S. citizens in Lebanon should therefore ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times.
U.S. Legal Permanent Residents should consult with the Department of Homeland Security before they depart the United States to ensure they have proper documentation to re-enter. Further information on the Department’s role during emergencies is provided within the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
The Department of State considers the threat to U.S. Government personnel in Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions. The internal security policies of the U.S. Embassy may be adjusted at any time and without advance notice. These practices limit, and may occasionally prevent, access by U.S. Embassy officials to certain areas of the country.
Because of security concerns, unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S. Government employees and their family members is discouraged and strictly limited and requires the Department of State’s prior approval.
U.S. citizens living or traveling in Lebanon are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at the Bureau of Consular Affairs website to receive the latest travel updates and information and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Lebanon. U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. 19. The U.S. Embassy is located in Awkar, near Antelias, Beirut, Lebanon. Public access hours for U.S. citizens are Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., U.S. citizens must make appointments in advance. However, U.S. citizens who require emergency services outside these hours may contact the embassy by telephone at any time. The telephone numbers are (961-4) 542-600, 543-600, and fax 544-209.
Information on consular services and enrollment in STEP can also be found at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut’s websiteor by phone at the above telephone numbers between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday local time. Inquiries may also be sent to BeirutACS@state.gov.
Up-to-date information on travel and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
For further information, U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Lebanon. You can also stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which also contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.” End of the warning thing.
I would like to read one such travel warning sent to US citizens planning to visit Israel, and the sort of dangers they might face there…like being beaten by rifle butt, held in jail, searched for 4 hours, and questioned at check points…and called anti-Semite, racist, emperialist…
Mind you that 7 Palestinian prisoners in Israel have crossed the 65 days on their hunger strike and the US and the UN feel totally unconcerned. Over 3,000 Palestinian prisoners are on their 25 days of hunger strike and the world media is too busy covering trivial events…
Do you know that Israel bombed Lebanon in 2006 with over 175,000 shells and dropped rockets and bombs from 15,000 attack jet sorties on tiny Lebanon? Three times more than during the 1967 war against three “Arab” armies?
Women at the heart of struggle
“Despite the establishment of stale Orientalist campaigns created in the name of women’s liberation in the Middle East and North Africa, the existence of enduring, self-sufficient women in the region has far-reaching historical context.
The search for female Middle East voices among pundits in the mainstream media echoes the same tired “Palestinian Gandhi” cliché.
Analysts have long used Lawrence of Arabia exotics as a means to portray the women of the Arab world: if they are not subservient housewives they are coy and reserved daughters, sheltered and locked away by the domineering male figures in the household.
These conjectures are not false in their entirety, but they are also not unique to one specific region, culture, religion or people.
The pervasive Western tradition of characterizing an entire community by certain traits, which their Western audiences can ooh and ahh at, has helped manufacture a plethora of distortions.
History confirms that Arab women have long played an active political role in their societies.
From Egyptian women who demonstrated alongside men during the Egyptian Revolution of 1919, against British occupation of Egypt and Sudan, to resistance fighter Jamila Bu Hreid of Algeria.
Bu Hreid was nearly tortured to death by French occupation forces during the Algerian revolution and independence movement which lasted from 1954 to 1962 and resulted in Algeria gaining its independence from France.
South Lebanon, liberated in 2000 after nearly 22 years of Israeli occupation, was also home to female political action. Lebanese women would quietly supply resistance fighters with ammunition, often wrapping them across their stomachs before passing through Israeli checkpoints unnoticed.
An alluring token
As of late, the women of the Arab world are being actively pursued by journalists, media figures and political commentators as sort of stock characters to be featured in their next editorial or television broadcast.
Those usually courted by the media are there to reassert Orientalist theories, for a Western audience to relish in sheer amusement, because for many an outspoken and visible Arab woman is an alluring token.
This has much to do with the current state of the Middle East and North Africa, specifically the uprisings that have captured the hearts and minds of many across world.
Prior to the deposing of Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali there was little or no media attention given to Arab women in respect to what role they played in the region, besides being propagandized as second-class to their more aggressive male counterparts.
Although the media claims to be on a scavenger-hunt of sorts, in search of the dauntless women of the Middle East, there has always been little talk of female Palestinian heroines and their struggle against Israel’s brutal system of apartheid and occupation of their native land.
The Palestinian village of Bilin has hosted weekly unarmed demonstrations against the occupation of its land since 2005. For nearly 7 years, numerous men and women courageously have faced Israeli forces in order to prevent further colonization of their villages, the destruction of their resources and the subjugation of their people.
Jawaher Abu Rahmah, one of many women Palestinian protesters, was killed by Israeli forces after inhaling extensive amounts of tear gas during a demonstration in Bilin in 2011; she suffered from severe asphyxiation and poisoning caused by chemicals in the tear gas.
Abu Rahmah’s brother Bassem was killed in 2009 after a tear-gas canister was fired at his chest by an Israeli soldier during a similar village demonstration.
Al-Shalabi has been subjected to beatings and humiliating treatment by Israeli forces and, despite having had her detention recently reduced from 6 months to four months since her hunger strike began three weeks ago, she has declared that her hunger strike will continue until her demand for freedom is met.
Womens’ compelling strength
The archetypal Arab women most often approved of, for the viewing pleasure of television audiences, is one which is confined to a subservient role: a coy, bashful creature whose raison d’etre is based on approval from a domineering male society.
This decayed misconception branding every aspect of Middle Eastern and North African society a homogeneous stereotype has long been refuted by women like Hana al-Shalabi and Jawaher Abu Rahmah, and a great number of others who are deliberately ignored by the mainstream media.
Women of the Middle East and North Africa are of compelling strength, doubtless courage and incorruptible dignity. History is laden with prominent female activists, poets, authors and political figures from this region who have long existed, despite the deliberate evasion of their stories and in the printing their names, and they will continue to exist.
Roqayah Chamseddine is a US-based Lebanese-American journalist, commentator and activist.
Eve Coulon commented: