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Shalabi supporters join hunger strike, boycott courts

March 19, 2012 6:43 P.M. (Updated: March 22, 2012 9:36 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Thirty Palestinian prisoners have joined the hunger strike of Hana Shalabi, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society said Monday.

PA Minister for Detainee Affairs Issa Qaraqe told Ma'an that Shalabi was hospitalized on Monday evening after consuming only water for 33 days. Her lawyers and doctors warned last week that she was suffering spells of dizziness, muscular wasting and loss of consciousness.

Shalabi, who has been held without trial since Feb. 16, is protesting Israel's practice of administrative detention.

Prisoners in jails across Israel have designated different day-long strikes in addition to the continuous hunger strikers, prisoner society chief Qadura Fares told Ma'an.

Israeli prison authorities transferred detainee Nael Halabi from Ofer prison to an unknown destination after he announced he had joined Shalabi's hunger strike, a detainees center said Monday.

Court boycotts

In Ofer jail, 70 administrative detainees have boycotted Israeli military courts since March 1, and detainees in Magido jail will join their refusal, as well as launching an open hunger strike, on April 1, representatives in the jails said.

Fares said the society is working on an agreement for all administrative detainees to join the boycott by April 17, which is Palestinian prisoners day.

Prisoners can either refuse to appear in court, or tell judges they refuse its authority, as academic Ahmad Qatamish did in his recent trial, the prisoners society chief said.

Seeking compromise

A hearing on Shalabi's case on Tuesday morning will try to agree a compromise deal as Shalabi's health deteriorates. Fares said the Israeli judge wants to prevent a deal similar to former hunger-striker Khader Adnan's, in order to preserve the credibility of the charges against the administrative detainees.

Adnan was guaranteed early release and non-renewal of his detention order in exchange for halting his 66-day hunger strike in February.

Shalabi refused a deal in early March to reduce her sentence by two months, saying she would continue her strike to end administrative detention.

The Palestinian Authority minister of prisoners said on Saturday that Israel offered to deport hunger-striker Shalabi to the Gaza Strip, but the government rejected the offer.

Israeli authorities say they have information she is a threat to Israel’s security and safety of its people.

"If they are afraid of her returning to her Jenin community, she can come to Ramallah and work with us and register at the university," the prisoners society head said on Monday.

'Fighting for dignity'

Shalabi is one of around 300 Palestinians jailed in Israel without trial.

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Thursday expressed his support for Shalabi after meeting her parents at his office in Ramallah.

"She is fighting for her dignity," the premier said.

Last month, Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, expressed "longstanding concern about the extensive use by Israel of administrative detention without formal charge."

Ran Cohen, of Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, told Reuters TV on Friday that Shalabi could be risking her life if she remains on hunger strike.
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