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Hunger strike in 5th week as activists call for pressure on Israel

May 24, 2014 11:38 P.M. (Updated: May 25, 2014 9:45 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- As hunger striking prisoners in Israeli jails began a fifth week of refusing meals, activist organizations on Saturday called on Israel to respect prisoners' rights and end its policy of administrative detention.

Some 125 Palestinian prisoners are currently on hunger strike, many of whom are administrative detainees held without charge or trial. Most of the prisoners began their strike on April 24, demanding Israel change its detention policy.

"We demand that the Israeli Prison Service (adhere) to the international treaties and declarations of which Israel is a signatory," three organizations said in a joint statement Saturday.

International Women's Peace Service, International Solidarity Movement, and Christian Peacemaker Teams called on the IPS to respect "the human rights of all Palestinians" in Israeli custody, and to end "the illegal practice of administrative detention immediately."

The statement alleged that "prison guards have increased raids on hunger strikers, confiscated all belongings other than clothing, and in some cases have physically assaulted prisoners."

Prison authorities have also at times "denied strikers salt -- the only form of sustenance besides water ... that the strikers have been taking."

The activist groups called for international pressure on Israel to meet the prisoners' demands.

A spokeswoman for the IPS did not answer calls seeking comment.

According to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, "unlike a criminal proceeding, administrative detention is not intended to punish a person for an offense already committed, but to thwart a future danger."

"The entire procedure is secret: administrative detainees are not told the reason for their detention or the specific allegations against them. ... Since the detainees do not know the evidence against them, they are unable to refute it," B'Tselem said in a May 11 report.

On May 14, 2012, some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners ended a 27-day hunger strike after reaching a deal with Israel. Under the terms of the deal, around 400 prisoners from Gaza would be allowed receive family visits and administrative detainees would be either freed or charged.

According to Addameer, Israel also agreed to limit the use of administrative detentions to exceptional cases, but reneged on the deal, renewing the detention of several prisoners and continuing to regularly implement the policy.
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