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Israeli Women Visit Palestinian Hunger Striker

Israeli women take turns visiting Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi at Kaplan Hospital, writes Shlomi Eldar. 
Layla al-Issawi holds a picture of her son Samer, who has been on hunger strike for 209 days while being held in an Israeli prison, at her home in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya February 17, 2013. The European Union on Saturday called on Israel to improve conditions for Palestinians in its jails, and a Palestinian minister said there would be rallies next week to support hunger-striking prisoners. Nearly 5,000 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails, many charged with involvement in attacks on
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For over three weeks, Tamar Fleischman has been coming to Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, Israel, with a small bouquet of flowers. Once there, she makes her way to Internal Medicine D, room 15, where Palestinian hunger striker Samer Issawi is lying on his deathbed. Fleischman wants to hand him the flowers and tell him that she and many other women like her identify with his situation and are worried about him, but she is blocked again and again by prison service guards. Still, she keeps trying.

Fleischman is a leading activist in Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch, an Israeli women’s group established in 2001 to oppose the occupation and the denial of freedom of movement to Palestinians. She volunteers there every day. Nevertheless, in an interview with Al-Monitor, she says that she is not acting on behalf of that group when she visits the hospital and tries to see Is sawi. She is acting as “a private individual and an Israeli citizen who is worried about him.”

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