New Berlin, NY woman on hunger strike for Palestinian prisoners

The following article ran in the New Paltz Daily Star on April 6, 2012:

Woman on hunger strike for Palestinian prisoners

By Jake Palmateer

A New Berlin woman said Thursday that she is 15 days into a hunger strike over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

“I’m getting weaker,” Sandra Twang said.

Twang said she is protesting Israel’s administrative detention policy for Palestinians and was inspired by the recent hunger strikes of two prisoners.

“I have been reading about the Palestinians for a couple years now and the conditions they live under,” Twang, 57, said by phone to The Daily Star.

Twang said she learned last year of a prisoner named Khader Adnan.

Khader Adnan went on a 66-day hunger strike last year after being detained by Israeli authorities. He was eventually released from detention.

“During his hunger strike he did appeal to the courts and his appeal was denied,” Twang said. “I just watched with such sadness and such rage.”

And earlier this year, she followed another case — that of Hana Shalabi.

Shalabi went on a 44-day hunger strike after she was arrested. Her strike ended when she was released from prison and deported to the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this week, Shalabi sent letters to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barnevald; and President Barack Obama.

In her letters, she urges them to request Israel to:

“¢ charge and allow due process for all Palestinians being held under administrative detention or release them;

“¢ end the practice of administrative detention in accordance with international and human rights law;

“¢ respect international, human rights and humanitarian law during arrest and detentions in the Palestinian territories.

Twang, a certified nursing assistant, said she has been on worker’s compensation since last June for a back injury. She said she has consulted with her doctor, who agreed to monitor her hunger strike.

Twang, who lives with her 17-year-old son, said she started off drinking tea and water, along with vitamins. But she said she is now drinking mostly just water with lemon.

“My stomach is getting to the point where it doesn’t want (tea) anymore. I am still able to get my vitamins down every day,” she said. “I get very shaky sometimes. I can still get around and still do chores, but I have to rest a lot.”

Twang said she has gone from 198 pounds to about 183.

Twang said she has not decided how long she will continue her hunger strike. That, she said, will depend on what sort of feedback she gets.

“My government needs to take Israel to task,” Twang said.

A representative from Schumer’s office called her Wednesday to acknowledge her letter was received, and he urged her to stop the hunger strike.