A slew of protests against Donald Trump and American policy await the U.S. president, who visits Israel as the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike reaches its 36th day.
By Yael Marom
Donald Trump’s visit to Israel on Monday is already generating the expected smiles, celebrations and tensions, and disputes between Israeli ministers over who gets to press the flesh with the president of the United States. But there are also some who will be using Trump’s visit to send a message to the controversial president, in support of the Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike.
The first protesters to receive Trump will be members of the grassroots group Women Wage Peace, who plan to demonstrate outside the President’s Residence in Jerusalem during the meeting between Trump and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The women, who will be calling for a diplomatic solution to the conflict, last week formed a giant human sign in Jaffa spelling out “Ready for peace” — the same message they’ll be relaying to the two presidents on Monday.
On Monday evening, as Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are meeting in Jerusalem, activists from the left-wing Hadash party will demonstrate outside the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, under the slogan of “Trump go home!”
On an invitation to the protest, organizers wrote: “Trump and U.S. government policy are part of the problem, not the solution. After 50 years of occupation, peace between Israel and the Palestinians will come from the people who live here, and not from the interests of the American superpower — which is the biggest beneficiary of the continuing wars, destruction and repression in the region.”
Knesset members, including Aida Touma-Suleiman and Abdullah Abu Ma’aruf of the Joint List, are also set to join the demonstration.
American supporters of the U.S. Democratic Party are expected to protest shortly after, outside the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. According to the organizers, the demonstrators will be seeking to “voice our opposition to the dangerous, right-wing agenda, and the incitement and hatred among our leaders, as well as to voice our support for peace, human rights and equality.” They also intend to “show President Trump that even when he visits Israel, he cannot escape protests against his policies.”
Trump arrives on the 36th day of the mass hunger strike by Palestinian political prisoners. The prisoners’ physical condition is starting to deteriorate, and the Israel Prison Service is reportedly starting to transfer dozens of prisoners to hospitals around the country.
At this stage, according to the Israel Medical Association, the hunger strikers are beginning to suffer from dizziness, weakness, tremors, unsteadiness on their feet, difficulty standing, arrhythmias, chills and more. As from the fifth week of a hunger strike, an individual is likely to show signs of vertigo, uncontrolled vomiting, and difficulty moving their eyes, which may also twitch.
The Palestinian hunger strikers are suffering through these symptoms in order to try and improve basic conditions in prison, including access to public telephones (which all other prisoners have), family visits, adequate and humane health services, improvement in conditions of transport between prisons, air conditioning, an end to administrative detention, and more.
The Palestinian National Council and the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel declared a general strike on Monday on both sides of the Green Line, in support of the hunger strikers and their demands. Solidarity protests are planned across the West Bank.
A coalition of organizations in Haifa will hold a separate demonstration in solidarity with the hunger strikers on Monday evening. On Tuesday evening, activists from the Jaffa Clock Square group will stage a protest in the center of Tel Aviv, in a bid to bring the hunger strike — which Israelis are ignoring — to wider attention.
Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article is also published in Hebrew.