The fall team met in Jerusalem and traveled directly to Ramallah for two days of additional training. Before leaving for Huwwara we visited a tent in Ramallah where persons are on a hunger strike in support of the hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in the many Israeli prisons. Civil law structures exist in most countries but such is not the case for Palestinians. They are under a military law which allows for “administrative detention” for up to six months without being charged with a crime or having a hearing. Such detentions can be extended. Palestinians who actively try to resist the occupation even by peaceful nonviolent means are often detained in this manner. The hunger strike is meant to denounce all of that as well as the living conditions inside Israel's prisons such as solitary confinement, ban of visitation, and the lack of medical attention. Apparently the hunger strike continues even after the deal Hamas and Israel reached on Oct. 11 for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
It didn't take us long to notice the two tents for right in the middle of one of the buzzing with life central squares in Ramallah. There was an old man nearby who seemed to want to talk to us. We went and greeted him and right away he started telling us his story with an unseeing look in his eyes. He told us the names of his relatives who were imprisoned, then pointed to his lower jaw that was completely toothless and made the gesture of teeth being pulled out. Even with some Arabic skills we were unable to determine much of what he was saying. But it was intense with emotion and this needed no words to be conveyed, we clearly felt it. Then tears came out of his eyes. We were unable to communicate with words but hope that our willingness to listen and to share time showed him that we cared. We took his picture and shook hands. We walked away with sadness, hopefully carrying away of a bit of his burden.