Coalition of Women for Peace Sides with Female Terrorists
Group calls for release of all female Palestinian prisoners.
Dozens of Palestinian and Israeli women demonstrated on Tuesday, March 9 outside of HaSharon jail north of Tel Aviv calling for the immediate release of all Palestinian female “political” prisoners. The Coalition of Women for Peace, an Israeli-Arab left wing umbrella organization, organized the demonstration on the occasion of International Women’s Day. In its press release published before the demonstration, it noted that “Thirty-four female political prisoners are being incarcerated in Israeli jails. Those prisoners suffer from physical, sexual and verbal abuse by Israeli security forces and in many cases prisoners are held in captivity under a generally written and obscure administrative warrant, which make it difficult to defend themselves in court.”
Lana Khaskia, coordinator of the Coalition of Women for Peace, said that, “We are demonstrating in order to remind the Israelis that International Women’s Day is not a holiday, but a day highlighting the ongoing oppression of women. While Jewish women celebrate International Women’s Day and [proudly] mark their progress towards equality, Palestinian women suffer behind jails’ fences. The political oppression, the physical abuse and humiliation which Palestinian women experience in jail are all a metaphor of the Israeli occupation as a whole, which is oppressive, violent and penetrating to the body and the open space. Therefore, the struggle against the occupation is also a struggle for women’s liberty and for women’s rights to their body.”
A short time after the demonstration dispersed, I interviewed Elat Maoz, a senior activist from Coalition of Women for Peace, about her organization’s goals and her position regarding the Palestinian prisoners and the preferable way to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.
Can you please provide me more details on the demonstration?
Dozens of activists gathered in front of HaSharon prison and participated in the demonstration under heavy police security. The police forced the demonstrators to disperse in spite of the fact that it was legal and there was no need for advance approval from the police. The demonstrators, in direct linkage to Women’s Day, called for the release of all political prisoners incarcerated in Israel and freedom and equality for women.
When you mentioned political female prisoners you were referring to the Palestinian prisoners and not to Israelis?
There are only Palestinian political prisoners in Israel.
You mentioned 34 political prisoners. Is that the total number of Palestinian female prisoners?
These are all Palestinian female prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails. Thirty-four in total.
Why do you call them political prisoners? The Israeli government refers to them as terrorists.
That’s exactly the reason why we are protesting against the Israeli approach, as these prisoners are not citizens of the State of Israel. They are under occupation. They were arrested because of their struggle against the occupation and therefore, they are political prisoners. Any arrest of a Palestinian by Israel is a political arrest, as it is not conducted based on fair trial or in the framework of one legal system, but under the occupation.
How do you refer to one of the most famous Palestinian prisoners, Wafa Al-Bas, who planned to commit a suicide attack in Soroka University Hospital in Beersheba and was arrested after she failed in her attempts to detonate her explosive belt? Do you also regard her as a political prisoner?
Israel has no authority to apprehend Palestinians. If Palestine were a state, it could try its citizens for their conduct. Today, Israel has no right to do so.
It could be construed from your position that Israel should call a taxi to drive home a Palestinian terrorist just after she entered a restaurant in Jerusalem and shot at people.
Israel has to end the occupation. This is what Israel has to do. Ending the occupation includes several issues, such as enabling the Palestinians to establish apparatuses of an independent state which will create a legal system. The argument that our [Israeli] legal system has authority to try citizens with no rights at all is absolutely groundless.
Until the Palestinian state is established, do you accept a scenario in which murders are not brought to justice? Do Palestinians have in your opinion the right to kill Israelis and to be released immediately with no punishment?
No one is allowed to kill anyone. I absolutely oppose any form of violence directed at human beings. It is obvious. However, there is a need to find a mechanism to regulate the status of the people [Palestinians]. They are political prisoners, because they are regarded as freedom fighters according to international criteria.
Until a Palestinian state is established, relations exist between two sovereign states, do you think that the Palestinians female freedom fighters, as you refer to them, are allowed to kill Israeli civilians and Israel should return them to Ramallah or Gaza immediately after committing their crime?
Your timetable is weird to me, as the call to release prisoners is a part of the demand to end the occupation, meaning that the issues are intertwined.
But as long as the occupation continues how Israel should react in this scenario?
Israel maintains the occupation. She can put an end to it anytime, even tomorrow morning. Namely, Israel makes her choice to pursue the occupation and that is a political and intended decision. It is not coincidental. It is not something that Israel can do. Israel is the strongest party [in the equation] and she has no problem ending the occupation tomorrow morning or even in the following five minutes. She can do it. The release of the prisoners is a part of ending the occupation and bringing about an historical reconciliation between the two peoples. The question regarding what will happen until the end of occupation is irrelevant. The occupation should be terminated with no delay.
In a scenario of a murder tomorrow in Jerusalem, should the Palestinian female terrorist be brought to justice or should Israel include her in the updated 35 prisoners that you demand their release?
Israel cannot try these women. Israel has no authority to try them. She can create arrangements and mechanism with the future Palestinian state. What should be done with an Israeli soldier that killed children in Gaza? Was he brought to justice? This discussion and the argument that there are female terrorists that have to be incarcerated are so groundless, because Israel is responsible for exerting the main violence.
How does the Coalition of Women for Peace see the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if it is possible?
The conflict should be resolved based on just principles that will enable equality of the two peoples. It should not be only a political agreement creating separation between the two national groups. The separation is not likely because of the Palestinian citizens living in Israel. However, we are strongly and without a doubt convinced that a real peace will exist only on the foundations of a just peace, namely the return of the Palestinian refugees, dismantling the settlements, enabling freedom of movement and creating real life and dignity for the people who live here, both Jews and Palestinians. The solution has to be comprehensive.
Do you support a one-state solution or two-state solution?
We have no opinion regarding this question. For us if the principles of justice and equality between the two peoples are implemented, it doesn’t matter if there is one state, two states or ten states. It is irrelevant. What really matters is following the basic principles.
You have mentioned the return of the refugees and their descendants, whose total number according Palestinian sources is about 5 million. Do you support the return of all 5 million Palestinians to the territory of Israel?
According UN resolutions and the charters dealing with refugees’ rights, the Palestinian refugees should receive the right to return to their houses. No question about it. The issue respecting who will choose to return and who not is a personal question of the refugees themselves. They must receive their right of return. It is not something that Israel can decide whether she wants to give it to them or not.
Do the descendants of the Jewish survivors of the Hebron massacre in 1929 have the right to return to their houses?
They are not categorized as refugees. The definition of a refugee is very clear and they do not meet the requirements. When peace between the two peoples exists, people will be able to live wherever they want.