Monday, September 25, 2017

Hunger Strikers Defiant as Administrative Detention Continues


By PM collaborators - September 20, 2016
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Behind Bars]
Tags: [Administrative detention] [Hunger Strike] [prisoners]

The condition of three Palestinian hunger strikers, held under Israel's administrative detention laws, has become critical, the Palestinian Detainees Affairs Commission has said. 

In a statement of September 17, reported by the WAFA news agency, the Commission's lawyers claimed that the three men – Malek al-Qadi and the brothers Mohammed and Mahmoud Balboul – had reached a “critical stage” and condemned their continued detention without trial by Israel. 
 
According to the lawyers, the three men have suffered a number of specific health problems, including several heart attacks, since they began their hunger strike at the start of July. 
 
Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs (PCPA), stated to Ma’an News that Malek al-Qadi was “fighting death” and had been transferred to the Wolfson Medical Centre for treatment. On Sunday, al-Qadi came out of a week-long coma. Mohammed Balboul temporarily lost his sight on September 4. 
 
On September 7 and 9, the Israeli Supreme Court provisionally suspended the administrative detention of the Balboul brothers and al-Qadi respectively, citing concerns over their health. Nonetheless, the men vowed to continue their hunger strike until were released from Israeli custody altogether. The Supreme Court rejected a request for the men’s release on September 13. 
 
Despite their condition, the three prisoners remain defiant. On September 19, al-Qadi made a plea to the Palestinian people: “Don't leave us alone! I ask President Mahmoud Abbas to intervene as quickly as possible, and I ask every holder of a Palestinian identity document who has conscience to support us in this battle,” he said in a statement.
 
“The three of us are dying and we have reached a very difficult stage. Save us!”
 
All three men were arrested in June and sentenced to several months’ in prison. The Israeli authorities did not provide a reason for their detention. 
 
Before his arrest, Mohammed Balboul worked as a dentist while his brother was a student at al-Quds University. Their 15-year-old sister was detained by Israel for three months earlier this year. Israel alleged that she was trying to cross a checkpoint with a knife, though local Palestinians deny this.
 
Like Mahmoud Balboul, al-Qadi was also a student at al-Quds University. His father, an important member of Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, was killed by Israeli troops in 2008.
 
Meanwhile, up to a hundred other Palestinian prisoners, including some affiliated with Fatah and Islamic Jihad, have started hunger striking “in solidarity” with al-Qadi and the Balboul brothers. The PCPA warned that it would escalate the hunger strike if the detention of the three men continued. 
 
Israel frequently imprisons Palestinians under the rules of administrative detention, which permits their detention for several months without trial or judicial review. Israel maintains that these measures are necessary for security reasons. 
 
But rights groups allege that administrative detention is used to undermine Palestinian civil society, and as a form of collective punishment. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were detained in Israeli prisons as of August 2016, 700 of whom are in administrative detention. 

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