Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Palestinian Arab hunger strike - in Norway

Al Arabiya reports that a number of Palestinian Arab hunger strikers are now in hospitals in Norway, as they seek political asylum there.

According to a UNHCR report:
Palestinian Mahmoud Hegazy, who has been on a hunger strike for a week will strike until he gets an answer on his asylum application. Hegazy has been waiting a year and a half for a decision from the Norwegian Immigration Appeals Board (UNE). Five other strikers have already ended their hunger strike as they believe they have already made their point clear. Hegazy sought asylum in Norway since he fears for his life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The six Palestinians started their hunger strike after that UNE needed four months extension to decide on their asylum applications. Both reception center staff in the city of Svolvær and the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) would prefer that Hegazy ended his strike, but he will continue for as long as he receives a decision from the authorities.

The Al Arabiya article says that the problem is that Norway requires a valid passport to prove that they were Palestinian. Apparently, in the past there have been many illegal Arab immigrants pretending to be Palestinian in order to get into Norway, so they have tightened up the requirements.

The Palestinian Authority has been withholding passports as a form of political football with Hamas.

It is unclear what danger Hegazy is claiming to be in, and why he fears for his life in the territories. Putting the facts together, it is possible that he is affiliated with Hamas or another terrorist organization, although maybe he is just caught in the Fatah-Hamas passport conflict.