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Protesters stage sit-in over administrative detention of 2 hunger-striking prisoners

Feb. 17, 2017 4:28 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 19, 2017 6:14 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- A sit-in protest was organized Friday morning in solidarity with two Palestinian prisoners from the Qalandiya refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank, just as the prisoners’ administrative detention orders were confirmed by Jerusalem’s central court.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that protesters held pictures of the prisoners, Jamal Abu al-Leil and Raed Fayez Mteir, who began an open hunger strike on Thursday protesting their administrative detentions -- the widely-condemned Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence.

According to PPS, Abu al-Leil and Mteir were initially detained on Feb. 14 and 17, 2016 respectively. Israeli authorities have issued six-month administrative detention orders for the two prisoners three times since their initial detentions last year.

Abu al-Leil is a former member of Fatah’s revolutionary council, according to PPS, while Mteir is the head of the Qalandiya youth center. Both are from the Qalandiya refugee camp in the West Bank's Ramallah district north of Jerusalem, and have been previously detained several times.

The prisoners have joined imprisoned journalist Muhammad al-Qiq who has been on hunger strike for at least 11 days to protest his administrative detention.

Al-Qiq, who lives in Ramallah and is originally from Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, was released from prison in May last year after he refused food for a grueling 94 days -- also in protest of his administrative detention at the time.

However, al-Qiq was redetained in mid-January after he participated in a protest in Bethlehem demanding the release of bodies of slain Palestinians held in Israeli custody.

Al-Qiq’s previous imprisonment by Israel -- widely condemned by the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other rights groups -- and subsequent hunger strike cast a spotlight on Israel’s use of administrative detention, its arbitrary imprisonment of Palestinians, and the concerted targeting of Palestinian journalists.

Al-Qiq was one of a number of prominent Palestinian hunger strikers in 2016, who included the Balboul brothers who went without food for 77 and 79 days, Malik al-Qadi for 68 days, and Bilal Kayid for 71 days.

While Israeli authorities claim the withholding of evidence during administrative detention, which allows detention for three- to six-month renewable intervals, is essential for state security concerns, rights groups have instead claimed the policy allows Israeli authorities to hold Palestinians for an indefinite period of time without showing any evidence that could justify their detentions.

Rights groups have claimed that Israel's administrative detention policy has been used as an attempt to disrupt Palestinian political and social processes, notably targeting Palestinian politicians, activists, and journalists.

According to Addameer, as of January, 6,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons, 536 of whom were being held under administrative detention.
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