What About the Palestinian Hostages?

Opinion from Gideon Levy, Israeli journalist for Haaretz, the oldest Israeli newspaper, 5/16/24

…A doctor, a hospital ward director, was beaten and tortured to death in an Israeli jail. That did not set off alarms here. Nearly all his physician colleagues, including heads of the medical establishment and those who take part in the horrific torture ongoing at Sde Teiman base and in Israeli prisons, did not say a word. A department director was beaten to death. So what? After all, almost 500 doctors and medical staffers have been killed in the war and their fate failed to arouse any attention. So why should Al-Bursh's death attract any attention? Because he was a department director? No war crime committed by Israel in Gaza has aroused any feelings here in Israel, with the exception of the joy felt by the bloodthirsty right-wing.

On top of the doctor's death came another heinous act: the response of the authorities. The Shin Bet was silent as usual. Ex-Shin Bet officers are now star commentators on television, asked to show us the way, to give us their opinion, but the Shin Bet never talks about those it has interrogated and tortured. The IDF shirked responsibility; the doctor was only "processed" at an army detention facility, and was immediately transferred to the Shin Bet interrogation facility in Kishon, and from there to Ofer Prison, which is under the charge of the Israel Prison Service. The IPS response was pure audacity: "The service does not address the circumstances of the deaths of detainees who are not Israeli citizens."

A man dies in prison, yet the Israel Prison Service does not think it should report the circumstances of his death to the public because he was not a citizen of the state. In other words, the lives of those who are not citizens have no value in Israeli prisons.

How can people identify with the pain felt by Israelis over the fate of the hostages, when these same Israelis turn out to be cold-hearted and indifferent to the fate of the other side's hostages? Why isn't there a single banner in Tel Aviv's "Hostage Square" calling for an investigation into the killing of the doctor from Gaza? Is his blood less red than the blood of the Israeli hostages who died? Why should the whole world take an interest and work only for our for hostages, and not for the Palestinian hostages, whose conditions of imprisonment and whose deaths in Israeli prisons should horrify everyone?